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Do What You Can

August 22, 2022
Dick Leggatt

Are you satisfied that most of what you do counts for something? That your efforts are not in vain? That you are accomplishing meaningful results with what you do in life?

These are good questions to ask ourselves. You and I need to stand ready to do what we can—trusting that our efforts will count for something.

In this letter, I want to encourage you with a novel thought: perhaps your everyday actions are having a far more significant impact than you think. It’s natural for us to want to do something overtly dynamic and dramatic. But maybe in the final analysis it simply boils down to this: do what you can—and leave the outcome in the Lord’s hands.

An Encouraging Revelation

The theme of this letter came from a recent phone conversation with a dear friend of many years. As we updated one another on our lives and activities, he shared about a decision he had made to end a long-term board membership with a large, influential organization. He had become concerned about significant mission drift, and his efforts, over several years, to bring needed change were having no impact. He wrestled with what his course should be, not wanting to give up. But he ultimately realized the time for a “necessary ending” of his board service was at hand.

When he and I discussed how these kinds of unexpected endings naturally cause us to wonder if we have done all we could in the situation, his comments became profound.

“I gained the needed confidence to step down as I read a comment Jesus made in Mark 14:8—the story of the woman who broke the alabaster jar and anointed Jesus, much to the dismay of those who watched it happen. About her action, Jesus simply stated: ‘She has done what she could.’ That’s how I feel about my board service. I have done what I could. The relief—the freedom from feeling I would be letting the Lord down or being disobedient—was palpable.”

That’s a liberating thought, isn’t it? Do what you can—let God work as He chooses.

Greater Significance

The revelation my friend shared with me inspired me to dig deeper into this Bible story. One really important discovery? This woman who “did what she could” was completely unaware of the much greater significance her actions would carry.

It must have surprised her that by just “doing what she could,” her loving act sparked an adverse reaction: “Why this waste? Why wasn’t the ointment sold instead, and the money given to the poor?” How did Jesus respond to those protests?

“But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me’” (Mark 14:6). Jesus commended her gesture as a good work done for Him. Then, in verse 8, He said: “She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.” Derek Prince often taught that it was only this woman who accomplished what others had hoped to do. The women at the tomb tried, but they were too late. This woman did it.

A Message to Remember

What is the message from this story? You and I just need to do what we can—and leave the rest up to the Lord. Our simple act may take on much greater importance than we could ever have imagined. But in the beginning, we just do what we can.

The woman had no grand expectations—she just did what she could. But in the eyes of Jesus, it was a good work for Him. Not only that, He regarded it as His prior anointing for burial—an act of great significance for Him.

How important was it? In verse 9, Jesus said that “wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Her loving gesture would become a worldwide memorial to her devotion and obedience.

What is the message? We do what we can, with no preconceptions of the impact of our simple act. But in His hands, it may take on a significance we could never imagine.

Responding to the Holy Spirit

Derek Prince had some profound thoughts about this woman who anointed Jesus. Here are some of his teaching points from a radio message called Extravagant Love.

“In Mark 14:8, Jesus said of the woman, ‘She did what she could.’ That’s so simple, but so important. God never asks us to do more than we can. I have often heard people say, ‘I wish I could do more.’ It always causes me to ask myself, ‘I wonder if they are really doing what they can.’ God will never require of you more than you can do. But if you do what you can, the attitude of Jesus will be just the same as it was toward that woman.

Jesus also said in Mark 14:8, ‘She poured perfume on My body beforehand to prepare for My burial.’ That is an amazing statement. None of the disciples really believed Jesus was going to die and be buried at that time. Yet this woman, apparently of all the people, had the intuition—the revelation—that Jesus was to die and be buried.  

After He died on the cross, they never did have time to anoint His body. They just had to wrap Him in sheets and put some perfume on the body. But they couldn’t do the real anointing. So, they missed the opportunity.

But I believe this woman was open to the Holy Spirit. That is my understanding. The Holy Spirit could tell her something because He could speak to her heart, not necessarily her head.

There is a saying in the French language: ‘The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.’ I think the heart of that woman had some reasons that all the people who sat and reasoned just didn’t understand.”

Are You Willing?

I hope you feel liberated by the truth in this letter. You don’t have to come up with complex action plans for activities that will have monumental results and repercussions. Instead, this is the focus: do what you can. Take basic steps you feel directed to take, and then let God do the rest. What is our task? You and I must simply do what we can.

Why not take a moment to tell Jesus you are willing to make this your aim?

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your statement about the woman in Mark 14:8: “She has done what she could.” Even though I regard her loving gesture as an extravagant act of worship, it causes me to realize that You are simply asking me to do what I can. I pledge myself to obey You in that matter.

I understand now that You are not asking me to develop some impossible, complicated, intricate plan to serve You. I see instead that You simply want me to be willing to do what I can, and then leave the results up to You.

Lord Jesus, I place my life in Your hands right now. I will do what I can; then leave it up to You to use my simple act however You desire. Amen.

Basic or Profound?

Sometimes, the Christian life seems to be very basic, and this may be one of those occasions. In the prayer above, we just made ourselves available to do what we can— and then agreed to leave the rest up to the Lord. Nothing too profound or complicated.

However, staying focused on that simple goal is the hard part. That’s where good teaching and foundational truths come into the picture—teaching which we are glad to provide for you as a token of our commitment to strengthen your relationship with Jesus Christ. Please let us share helpful materials with you, starting with our free offer for “Extravagant Love,” the message from which Derek’s quote was taken.

It is our great joy and privilege to stand with you. Your commitment to all that is going on here at Derek Prince Ministries is so vital—and we send our deepest thanks for the pivotal role you play in this worldwide work through your prayers and gifts.

The Year Ahead

I have the feeling that what we have talked about in this letter may be of help to you throughout the entirety of 2022. Often, we tend to begin a new year with unreachable goals and expectations which eventually break down as the year progresses.

Anything you and I can do to simplify and streamline the goal-setting process will be a helpful step. So, right from the beginning, let’s keep the 2022 objective for ourselves straightforward and attainable. What should be our focus? To do what we can.

Let’s make it our aim to fulfill the prayer offered earlier: to place ourselves in the Lord’s hands; then, to do what we can—and leave the rest up to Him.

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