“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NRSV).   
     Last Friday the New York Times reported that twenty-five employees of a Swiss advertising agency were injured while walking over hot coals in Zurich Switzerland. Multiple emergency units were dispatched. Thirteen people were hospitalized.
     The tradition of walking across hot coals is allegedly a means of summoning one’s courage. Yet I wonder about the twenty-fifth person who was injured. After witnessing twenty-four other people succumb to second degree burns, I sense that the absence of prudence, more than the need for courage, was required for number twenty-five to proceed.
     Motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, claims, “The purpose of the fire walk is just a great metaphor for taking things you once thought were difficult or impossible and showing how quickly you can change.” In other words, determination is a spiritual virtue one must conjure from within to overcome great challenges. Put another way, if it’s going to be, it’s up to me.
     The Apostle Paul utilized a different approach by claiming he could do all things through the Spirit of Christ who provided the strength he needed. All of which is a way of saying, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to YOU, O LORD, and me.” Together there is nothing Jesus and I cannot accomplish.
     Now, I’m confident Paul wasn’t suggesting that walking across 1000-degree rocks is an idea Jesus would support. Part of the strength Jesus provides includes the power of wisdom. Just because you can do all things doesn’t mean you should try.
     Going financially all out in a bear market may be something you can do but doing so would demonstrate a lack of prudence. Or volunteering to your boss to take on an additional workload may prove your value to the company, but the long-term effects on your health and relationships at home may prove costly.
     Paul’s point is this. We need Jesus to provide us both the direction, as well as the capacity to conquer the tests of life, great and small. Instead of looking within, Paul encourages each of us to look up to the Source of all wisdom and power.
     So, in the event you ever are asked to walk across a bunch of searing rocks, my advice is to seek counsel from above before you proceed. My hunch is that Jesus will wave you off the coals and keep you out of the E.R.