“CAN’T” WILL NOT BE TOLERATED

(Post by: Madie Hobbs) Blogmas Day Nine

I don’t know if it was like this in any of your households growing up, but having a dad who was in the military, I was frequently told that “can’t” was not a word that would be tolerated. Nor should it ever be treated as a real word in my vocabulary.  

It has often baffled me, when looking at my generation, the amount of quitters I see filling the world around me. I have very frequently been shocked at the number of excuses, and the commonness of “can’t” in our society.  

The toleration of this word has made us into a weak, pitiable, and harmless group of people with no hope of true success in our lives.  

After just spending time remembering the attack on Pearl Harbor, which thrusted America into action during the heart of WWII, I have a new sense of awe for those who have served our incredible country. Whenever discussing the exceptionalism of the veterans of WWII in particular, I am always reminded of one of my favorite movies set amid our struggle against the Nazis.  

It follows the mission of a small crew of American naval officers, who are ordered to intercept a German Enigma Machine, which was aboard a disabled German submarine. The men sent to retrieve the machine are soon stranded upon the enemy vessel, when their own submarine is torpedoed by another Nazi ship, sent to assist their fellow countrymen. Throughout the rest of the movie, you watch as the small American crew tries their best to manage the damaged Nazi vessel and safely deliver the Enigma Machine to the United States.  

Just when you think they’re about to get a break, the mast of a Nazi destroyer is seen on the horizon. The American’s are left with only one torpedo, which at that moment, wasn’t even in working condition. A leak is keeping the torpedo from gaining enough pressure to be shot out of the submarine, and the mechanic is too large to reach the submerged valve which could fix the issue.  

The skipper is then faced with a difficult decision. Which crew member will he send into the bilge to fix the leak? He chooses a smaller, young soldier nicknamed Trigger, who does his duty without hesitation. The only problem is, once he fixes the first leak, a new one springs up further back, and the air hose is too short to allow him to swim back to it. When the skipper is informed that Trigger has failed, he rushes to the bilge himself, and finds a distraught man sitting before him, utterly defeated.  

The skipper pleads with him to go back down and try again, but he is met with an adamant reply from Trigger.  

“I can’t reach it!” he practically shouts.  

The skipper grabs the pair of goggles and the air hose sitting beside them and shoves them back into Trigger’s hands.  

“You can reach it,” he says confidently, “and you will. Now get down in that bilge, and do your job, sailor.”  

Trigger, once again, obeys his orders. As depth charges are exploding ceaselessly around them, he swims back toward the leak, abandoning his air hose, and reaching with all his might. He pulls the valve needed to stop the leak and is successful in fixing the problem that kept their one torpedo from arming.  

Unfortunately, Trigger drowns in the process.  

In our society today, this incident would be looked upon as foolish. The skipper would come under fire for expecting Trigger to do what he signed up to do. Everyone would say Trigger should have been given a safe space, and ultimately, they would have disregarded the enormity of his sacrifice.  

By doing what he said he couldn’t do, Trigger saved the rest of his crew, and their mission to capture the Enigma and bring it back to America was ultimately successful.  

I believe “can’t” is the most dangerous word that could ever come out of any of our mouths.  

Let us think, for just a moment, what would have happened to us, had Jesus said that poisonous word. If he had said, “hmm, I can’t give up everything I have here in Heaven to go live among those sinful people.” Or “I can’t possibly go through all the pain of crucifixion. I mean, sure, I love these people, but that’s a steep price.”  

I can assure you, our world would be drowning in sin and death, with absolutely no hope of rescue. We would be living in the midst of chaos and destruction, with no hope of transformation.  

We would be living in a world where there is no reason for this Season.  

I encourage you today, dear reader, to never partake in uttering the crippling word of “can’t,” but rather go on more boldly in your pursuit of Christ this Christmas Season.  

“Can’t is the worst word
That’s written or spoken;
Doing more harm here
Than slander and lies;
On it is many
A strong spirit broken,
And with it many
a good purpose dies. 

It springs from the lips of
The thoughtless each morning
And robs us of courage
We need through the day:
It rings in our ears
Like a timely-sent warning
And laughs when we falter
And fall by the way.  

Can’t is the father
Of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror
And half-hearted work;
It weakens the efforts
Of artisans clever,
And makes of the toiler
An indolent shirk.  

It poisons the soul
Of the man with a vision,
It stifles in infancy
Many a plan;
It greets honest toiling
With open derision
And mocks at the hopes
And the dreams of a man.  

Can’t is a word none should
Speak without blushing;
To utter it should be
A symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage
It daily is crushing;
It blights a man’s purpose
And shortens his aim.  

Despise it with all
Of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgment
It seeks in your brain;
Arm against it
As a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of
You someday shall gain.  

Can’t is the word
That is foe to ambition,
An enemy ambushed
To shatter your will;
Its prey is forever
The man without a mission
And bows but to courage
And patience and skill.  

Hate it with hatred
That’s deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed
‘Twill break any man;
Whatever the goal you are seeking,
Keep trying
And answer this demon by saying:
I can.”  

~ Edgar Allbert Guest, A Man Who Can 

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