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Yes, You Can!
Photo: Studiomill
While in a Nazi prison camp, Dietrich Bonhoeffer penned, “In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.”

I read a story from Guideposts Magazine (September, 1995) about a fellow named Jim Stovall who as a young man lost his sight, and in his blindness revealed the very essence of Bonheoffer’s words.

For a while Jim Stovall maintained partial vision and chose to volunteer at a school for the blind.
Assigned to work with a blind handicapped young boy, the story describes how Jim labored to teach and build up the boy’s confidence. Simple things the rest of us take for granted such as tying his own shoes or climbing stairs seemed impossible to the boy. Although Stovall wanted the boy to recognize them, he wanted him to look past his restrictions. One day while encouraging the lad that he could learn to tie his shoes, this dialog ensued:

“‘No, I can’t!’ the boy insisted.”

“‘Yes, you can,’ Stovall replied.”

“‘No, I can’t!’ The verbal battle went on.”

Sometime later, Stovall found himself struggling with his own worsening maladies, and he became discouraged with his own college studies, deciding to quit both school and his volunteer work.

Heard a Little Voice

While explaining that he thought he couldn’t do it, and unbeknownst to Stovall, the four-year-old boy he’d been working with stood nearby listening to the conversation and now he became the encouraging voice to Stovall. Nearby he heard a little voice say, “Yes, you can!”

“’No, I can’t!’ said Stovall with conviction.”

“Yes, you can!” the little boy countered.

Struck with compassion, Stovall realized if he quit, there’d be no example for the boy, no one to spur him on, he too would give up. Though there’d be struggles, right there Stovall determined to persevere and finish school.

In the book of Philippians (4:13), the apostle Paul compels us to encourage one another. Then he reminds us that we “…can do all things through Christ who gives us strength” (My paraphrase). Although we may have limitations, when we look to the limitless power of God and His love, our limitations seem trivial. This verse became reality for both child and man, for like pebbles dropped in the water, the ripples spread out but also come back to shore. When we encourage another, we encourage ourselves.

Finally after three and a half years, Stovall received a very welcomed graduation gift when his young friend persevered and accomplished his goals of tying his shoes and climbing a flight of stairs.

Jim Stovall later said, “In the end, a person is only known by the impact they have on others.”

Is there an obstacle you are dealing with today? With determination, persistence, and with God on your side, you can persevere and overcome it.

Yes, you can!

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By Daniel LaFlair. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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