Over the course of my career as a musician, there've been numerous times when I've realized something very humbling: that I don't have the capacity or ability on my own to do what I've been called to do. When I see this is happening, I often try to muster up whatever I need by my own strength. And every time I do this - and consequently fail - I realize after the fact that it's precisely in these moments when the Lord wants me to honestly and humbly confess my needs to Him and then watch Him answer.
It's such a hard thing to be honest with yourself and admit that you can't do something. After all, we have the whole world (and our own flesh) telling us otherwise..."you can do whatever you set your mind to" etc. In addition, it's easy to look at everyone around you and see them succeeding at the things you don't have the ability to do (not realizing that the whole time it's God who's granting them abilities or capacity to do what they do - "What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" 1 Corinthians 4:7).
Frankly, it'd be embarrassing for me to share how many times I've tried to rely on my own abilities or strength - even after I see time and time again how it doesn't work. I know that I am God's workmanship and that He created me to do specific and good things (Eph 2:10). And I know that He promises to supply every need of mine according to His glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19). And yet I'm so slow to learn and run to Him when I need Him most!
My most vivid experiences of this have come out of the calling that I've felt for a long time now to be a jazz trumpet player and bandleader. At times I haven't been able to explain why or how I feel this way, but over the years I've seen so many signs to confirm this. And in the very moment I realize this, instantly my mind and heart bring all sorts of doubts to the table: "But I play too many mind games with myself that often paralyze me" or "I don't have the fearless strength that a trumpet player and/or bandleader needs," etc.
But it's in these moments when I sense the Lord quietly saying to me, "John, of course you don't have the ability to do what I've called you to on your own. It's because you don't! That's where I'm calling you to rely on me and seek me for what you need, and I'll provide it...in abundance." And I can attest to the fact that every single time I've obeyed the Spirit in this He's done exactly as He promised to.
And in that moment, when I feel most weak and helpless and I've asked the Lord to move, I begin to feel a wonderful thing...that I've done what God has intended the trial to do in the first place - to make me run to Him (and running to Him is the safest and surest refuge). What's more is that I know for certain in that moment that God will answer that prayer. I know that He'll answer - in His timing and His own way of course, but He will answer. And O what a sweet feeling of assurance I feel in that moment! It's infinitely better than any self-satisfactory tease that my flesh longs for in wanting to do it on my own strength, that's for sure.