“Just do it”—but what about when I just can’t?

When I was growing up, a lot of people wore t-shirts or other athletic gear emblazoned with this logo:

The slogan pretty well sums up the dominant thinking of our world. We are to measure ourselves by our accomplishments and our abilities. We are judged by our marks on our exams, our ability to secure a promotion, our sexual prowess, and so on and so forth. If you can’t “just do it,” then you don’t have a place in society.

Today, a lot of people are going to be walking around with a different logo emblazoned on themselves, the one to the left. There’s no text to go along with it, but if there was, it might say, “I just can’t.” Perhaps you’ve had this experience. You try and try to “just do it” but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t.

This is where the good news of Jesus Christ begins—with the recognition that sometimes we cannot be the people God is calling us to be, sometimes we can’t do justice, love kindess, and walk humbly with our God, sometimes we can’t love our neighbour as ourselves, sometimes we can’t love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

And God sees all this and says, “That’s OK. You are loved.” That love is shown to us in the presence of God’s son, Jesus.

But the story doesn’t end there. And we see that in the logo Christians wear today. It’s a cross, the ultimate symbol of “I just can’t.” The cross shows just how deeply God knows the failings, imperfections, and inabilities of the world and its people.

The empty tomb on Easter Day, however, shows us how God redeems our failings and invites us into a new life in which “just do it” becomes an option in a whole new way. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves in the story.

Today, it’s alright to turn again to God and say, “I just can’t.” And hear God say, loud and clear, “I love you anyway.”