Steven Furtick - But I've Tried Everything
This is an excerpt from: Try Higher
If you'll be honest, there are certain things in your life right now and areas of your life… I don't know if you're going to look at me with that really confused look like you do sometimes, where you pretend like everything in your life is working and everything in your life is straight and organized and together. I don't know if you're going to do that to me on this particular sermon or if you're going to be honest with me. There are some areas of your life where you are blocked.
There are some areas in your life where you are running your head up against the same habit, the same wall, the same way of doing it over and over again, and even if you experience short-term victory, it seems to be just a precursor to a deeper point of disappointment when you fall back into the same thing again. So, y'all are going to do like that today, that really confused thing. Okay. It's okay. I have areas in my life where at certain times before I have been blocked, and that's exactly the scene here. They're trying to bring this man to Jesus, and they are blocked outside the door. Now, here I should differentiate.
What the Bible says here is really important, because this is a specific word. This is not just a generic Bible sermon on "You can do it. You can make it. Chin up". This is not a "Go get 'em, tiger" kind of sermon. This is a custom-tailored message to a certain type of block. In verse 18, it says, "Some men [four of them] came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus". They did what? They came carrying a paralyzed man and tried. They tried. There have been times in my life where I said I tried, but I only kind of tried. There have been certain things, certain tasks, certain responsibilities, certain goals that I kind of tried at. You know exactly the kind I'm talking about. You know, "Well, I tried to call them". You didn't want them to pick up, so when they didn't pick up, it was a sigh of relief. Just enough to say "I tried" when your boss asked.
Or it's me as a teenager. I only had one or two chores. My parents didn't make me work very hard around the house, but I did need to cut the grass sometimes. Then guess what? "I tried to cut the grass, Dad, but there was no gas in the lawn mower". That man showed me the difference between trying and trimming the grass. He showed me, "This is where the gas is. This is how you put it in. Until you put the gas that I bought in the first place in the lawn mower that you claim is empty, don't say, 'I tried.'" But I was only 12. Now I'm much more responsible. I'm much better at this. This passage of Scripture is not about a teenager who said, "Well, I tried to do the test, but I left my book at the thing, and the dog ate the… My dog ate my mom so I couldn't do my homework".
These men carried another grown man who knows how many miles to try to get him to Jesus. So, this is not they said, "Oh, yeah! I'll pray for you about that problem in your life," knowing good and well you're not going to pray. You're just trying to wrap up the conversation. You just don't want to give them any money. You just don't want to help them get in rehab. You just say, "I'll pray for you". This is not that type of situation. I want to point that out because there are some times in your life where you haven't really tried. Reading the first chapter of the book about the diet is not trying the diet. Coming to church three times in 12 months is not really trying to build your relationship with God. I'm not saying it to shame you, because I'm telling you there are areas in my life where I say I tried. Did I? I say I listened. Did I?
I have this friend who coaches professional athletes and CEOs. He does all this mental coaching. He says when he hears somebody say this phrase he loves it, because he sets them up. They say, "I want to do it. I've tried everything". When they say that, he goes, "Oh, everything? You've tried everything? Okay. Let me see the list". They go, "What list?" and he goes, "Well, I mean, if you tried everything, certainly you kept a spreadsheet of everything you tried, because if you really tried everything, then you had to list everything so you could evaluate what worked and what didn't. So, if you tried everything, bring me the list. Because if you tried everything, then you had to combine certain things in certain sequences to say, 'I tried everything.' So, you tried this and that, and that didn't work, so then you tried this, then that. So then you tried this and that. Let me see the list where you tried everything". He said at this point they crumble. "Okay. Not everything".
There are some things in our lives where we have a desire… I like to call it a cycle. It's a cycle where I get inspired, I try, I get tired, and now…"Well, I tried". Let me walk you back through that really slowly. Y'all can do this on Digging Deeper and break this down. "I'm inspired. I'm trying. I'm tired. I tried". I talked to a lady. I said, "You should come to church". She said, "Oh, I tried". I said, "You tried"? She said, "Yeah, I came. They made me go in a different room. The room was full". I said, "What time did you get there"? She said, "9:43". I said, "You know it starts at 9:30. If you would have tried even 10 minutes earlier, you probably could have snuck in the top". But she tried.
Do you have an area of your life right now where you have said, "I tried"? Or you're telling yourself, "I tried everything to get through to my kid. I tried everything to make that better. I tried everything". Everything? Show me the list. Yet, for those of you who are like, "I should have skipped today; he's making me feel terrible," the message I came to bring you today is not that I don't think you're actually trying or that you just need to try harder. Because that's where we take this a lot of times. Right? Like, "All right. I'm going to work out eight days a week, nine days a week. With God there's always a way; by faith I will find it. I'll make another day in the week. I'll put another star in the sky. I'll do another one".
Y'all, I don't think you can try much harder than these men tried. They carried a grown man all the way to see this wonder-working rebel priest named Jesus who was healing people and teaching the kingdom and laying down the authority of the Word of God in an incarnate way that amazed everybody who heard him. They bring this man on a mat, and he can't do anything for himself. There were only four of them. I don't care what you bench. Four people carrying one grown man who can't move for any distance counts as trying. So, they tried to get in. The Bible says something very interesting. It says because of the crowd, they couldn't find a way. I don't think this is a passage talking about how more effort will bring greater results.
I think, a lot of times, the reason we go from inspired to trying to tired to tried is because we try harder, harder, harder, and harder. What happens as you try harder and harder and harder and harder? It gets heavier and heavier and heavier and heavier. Some of you are here today, and you're going, "Well, I did try or I would try, but every time I try to try, I can't even try to try, because I trip on the things that I tried for in the past. I'm trying now, but it's what happened then that makes me unable to try. You don't see the injuries I've been through to know that I'm trying".
Look. I'm not preaching to a person today who's not trying, because you chose to bring your heart into an environment where you could hear the Word of God. Even if you did skip church and watch it later, you're hearing this sometime because you are trying. They tried to bring him to Jesus. They tried honestly. They tried valiantly. I didn't see anybody else in the passage carrying a paralyzed man. I didn't see the Pharisees carrying anybody on a mat. I didn't see the religious teachers trying to help anybody. You know, the truth of it is you haven't really experienced struggle until you've stepped in to try to bring somebody else with you along the journey. So, they tried.
I want to do something right now that may seem sacrilegious, but I need to do it to get the point across. There is somebody I'm preaching to, and you are blocked, but you've tried. You've been blocked, but you have tried. It's very different than "I didn't even try it. I didn't even do it". It's very different. It's a different kind of tired when you've really tried. That's why I like to preach to youth sometimes. They haven't really even tried yet. They haven't even gotten tired of themselves yet. They're not even sick of themselves yet. You know, I don't have to do half the work I have to do with you when I preach to you, all y'all "over 30" people, "over 40" people, "over 50" people. "I'm tired of this. I tried everything you're up there talking about. I tried all of that".
Now look. They tried. Verse 18 says they couldn't get in, but they tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. Here's what I want to show you in verse 19: what they did and what they could have done. "When they could not find a way to do this…" What? To bring this man to Jesus. "…because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus". I love that. What I love about it, though, is it says, "When they could not find a way to do this (what they originally intended to do) because of the crowd," and then there is a comma. It doesn't say they started a fight in the parking lot so their friend could get in. I love that. Do something for me really quick. This might disturb you.
I want y'all to take away the second part of that verse. "When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd…" Now take away the rest. What would you do next in that situation? What are you doing in that situation? Because if we make a few substitutions here, we're not talking about four men who lived 2,000 years ago anymore; we're talking about you. "When they could not find a way because of the crowd, they looked at each other and said, 'Well, we tried,' and turned around and went home". This story would probably not be in the Bible if the men brought the man all the way to Jesus, encountered resistance at the door, tried, begged, bribed… "I'll do anything. Don't you see this man needs help"?
See, you're wondering the same thing I wondered. Why wouldn't somebody else give him their spot? Paralyzed people were not given special access in this time. There were no handicapped spots in this time for people in this condition. In fact, it was often seen as a sign of God's divine displeasure on your life if you had something physically wrong. So, they assumed, "There's something you are not doing right that has caused your legs to not be able to work," so they would actually ostracize you. Rather than including you, they would exclude you. So, the man on the mat didn't get a special spot for having no ability to walk. In fact, he had more obstacles. The one who needed it the most had the least access to it.
Might I just ask a question, church? Why do we make it so hard for people to come to God sometimes? Why do we put up so many restrictions for people to come into the presence of God? Why do we judge others for struggling with stuff that if we were in a situation, we might have the same struggle? Or truth be told, why do we judge people for stuff we haven't even been free from ourselves for five years? Why do we judge people for stuff that if they showed everything we thought about on a movie screen, we would be embarrassed about it too? So, I'm glad these men don't start a fight, because if they start a fight, they go to prison and their friend doesn't have a ride home. How do you deal with it?
I want you to think about how you're going to finish this sentence in your life right now. "When they could not find a way because of the crowd…" When they could not find a way because of the debt… When they could not find a way because of the genetics… When they could not find a way because of the addiction… When they could not find a way because of the broken heart… When they could not find a way because of the divorce… When they could not find a way because of the betrayal… When they could not find a way because of their boss… Oh, I'm coming all through this crowd. I'm coming all through this crowd until I find that place where you've been blocked, because I came with a word from God today.
There's always a way. With God there's always a way. Just because I don't see it when I first show up, just because I can't point to it yet, just because it's not obvious, just because I can't really get my truck through there, just because I can't get there dancing, just because I can't get there in style, just because I might be a few years late, and just because somebody told me, "You can't go this way, and people like you can't do that, and people from our background can't rise there…" With God there's always a way!