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“Stretch forth thy hand.”—Mark iii. 5.

THAT was the one thing he couldn’t do! And he was asked to do it! Christ named his great incapacity and demanded the impossible. For years and years the shrunken, shrivelled thing had hung helplessly at his side, a poor mockery of a hand. “Stretch forth thy hand!” Impossible! But he did it! “And his hand was made whole like unto the other.”

I very much like an epitaph which is found upon a woman’s grave in New England—“She hath done what she couldn’t!” Strange achievements hide behind that significant line. She did the impossible. Nobody would have dared to prescribe such things for her. Nobody ever thought she could do them. But she did them. “In watchings oft!” Long night watchings in 74nursing the sick! Night after night, day after day! “You’ll never be able to do it!” But she did! Or she made prolonged vigils in quest of God’s lost children, on desolate wastes and on cold nights. “You’ll break down!” But she didn’t. “She hath done what she couldn’t!”

And that is to be the Christian’s distinction. “What do ye more than others?” We are not to walk in the average ranks; we are to march in the van. We are to triumphantly beat the average. Anybody can do the possible. We are called to do the impossible, the things we cannot do. We are to make a living, and at the same time to ennoble a life. We are to get on and get up. We are to be ambitious and aspirant. We are to be creatures with wings, and yet to be the busiest folks on the hardest roads.

And harder things than these we have to do. We are to go to lives where hearts are like flint, and we are to melt them with the ministry of light. Impossible! Yes, we are to win great battles, and we are to have no other equipment than “the armour of light.” We are to overturn mighty strongholds with the forces of the spirit. Impossible! 75“Things that are not are to bring to nought things that are.” Such is to be the Christian’s distinction. We are to march beyond the stern borders of the possible and set our feet in impossible lands.

Our Lord commands it. What is the secret of the achievement? This is the secret. His commandments are always the pledge of the needful endowments. The blind man obeys his Master, and goes forth to find his sight in the pool of Siloam. How impossible! Yes, but he went, and Christ’s holy power went with him, and he came back seeing. The cure was not in Siloam, but in the journey; not in the mineral spring, but in the obedience. “As he went he received his sight.” At Christ’s bidding faith sets out on the most astounding errands, “and laughs at impossibilities, and cries, ‘It shall be done!’”

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