A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE!

On a vacation many years ago, our young grandson saw the teeter-totter after his older brother sat on the end at ground level.  Almost instinctively, he wanted to be sitting on the other end.  Of course, the problem is that when one is sitting on the lower side, the unoccupied end is up in the air.

see saw
Papa assisting young grandson on the teeter-totter.

He didn’t know the words “A little help, please!” but he knew that his Papa would lift him high onto the teeter-totter seat.  So far so good!

But, then, after settling on the high end, he realized there was more to a teeter-totter than just sitting on the seat!  There was the weight differential between siblings and gravity was not his friend!

Once seated, he wanted to do it himself.  This was, of course, an abject impossibility since he could not even hold himself steady, but he didn’t realize that.  His spirit of “I can do it-ism” (is that a word?) was running rampant.

So, Papa stood behind the young teeter-totter rider, holding the seat and guiding the ride so that the older sibling could go up and come back down without such a jolt that the little guy would be thrown into the air.  In other words, Papa helped even though the little one believed he was doing it all by himself.

There are times when we, as adults, find ourselves in situations which overwhelm us or which are so complex that we cannot unravel the situation.  It is at those times that we should say “A little help, please!”

When we come to the end of our rope, our Lord is standing there ready to catch us.  Whatever the need is, our Lord is more than able to handle it according to His will and for your benefit.

Our problem, however, is that we, often, are too prideful to ask for help.  We need it, we know we need it, but we cannot seem to say the words, even to those who love us and who are in our physical family as well as our church family of believers.

Scripture repeats over and over again the admonition that we are to help others.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Acts 20:35 ESV.

Help the weak, both believers and non-believers. (For further reference, see 1 Thessalonians 5:14.)

“Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

Philippians 4:3 ESV.

Helping here was to be extended to missionaries who labored with Paul, and may require giving funds or providing housing; providing clothes or preparing a meal.

“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

2 Corinthians 1:11 ESV.

Helping includes more than merely giving money; it includes praying for the ministry of others.

When Jesus was healing and teaching, a Canaanite woman came to Him seeking healing for her daughter who was severely oppressed by a demon.  He did not respond immediately, and the disciples told Him to send her away.  He said that He was sent to the house of Israel, distinguishing her since she was a Canaanite.  She then persisted in seeking relief for her daughter as follows:

“But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.”

Matthew 15:25-28 ESV

I find it easy to ask the Lord to help me – but it is far more difficult to ask for help from others.  This should not be so.  By refusing to tell others of our need, we are denying them the blessing of obeying the Lord’s command to supply the needs of others.

Christian, if you have what others need, open your hands and give.  Christ gave His life for you; we surely can assist others in their time of need. Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading as you seek to help others.

If you have a need, swallow your pride and tell others of the problem.  Find a care group, an individual, an Elder, Deacon or the Pastor at your church, anyone who you feel comfortable speaking with and share the need or concern.  Pray with them and then let the Lord lead them in assisting you toward resolution of the problem.

christ-of-the-ozarks-missouri-1968-3
Christ of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA (circa 1965)

The Lord is still in our world helping others as He did with the Canaanite woman; now He uses our hands and feet to do His work.  Allow us to do so by seeking help.  It is available through those He leads by His Spirit to work in this world.

Father, may I be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and may I respond joyfully to the needs that present themselves to me.  And, may I give to others so that Your Name may be glorified.  

 

THE TRIP TO … WHERE AM I?

It is no secret in our family that I have absolutely no inherent sense of direction. Even with the little N or SW on the car’s information panel, I often don’t know which way to go.  Unless I am driving to my grocery store, my office, my church, it would be anyone’s guess about when, or whether, I would get to the place I intended to go.  [I call this my “elongated route syndrome” rather than simply saying that I get lost all the time.]

The best example of one of my elongated routes was the subject of an earlier blog entitled The Elongated Trip posted May 23, 2015.  I was to go to Bristol, Tennessee from Knoxville in the days before GPS or the voice of Siri directing your travel. This trip is, for almost everyone, about 120 miles.  But, for me, on that day, the trip was over 240 miles, not on interstates but rather on state routes through the mountains, valleys and byways of Tennessee and Kentucky. 

map-showing-elongated-trip

As you can likely guess, the yellow is the easy route that I should have taken while the green line shows the actual path that I drove.

Bill and I recently drove through Bristol and, since Bill was driving, I could think about that long drive.  While the trip was decades ago, I still remember it vividly.

It occurred on a day when frustrations, fears and financial deficits were facing me with full force; it was a day when I was sure that the future was bleak and that there would be no possible rescue.  I did not doubt that God loved me, nor did I think that He had abandoned me … I just did not see how any relief would be coming that would help my dire situation.

When we don’t know what to do or where God is directing us to go, we often become anxious, frustrated, and sometimes resentful, thinking that we are just “biding time” while others are active in the ministry that we want to do. After all, we want to get going!

During times such as this, try to back away from the situation and consider whether God might be trying to teach you a lesson.  Remember, the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian and it is His job to transform us into the likeness of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. This transformation occurs by developing the fruit of the Spirit that Paul details in Scripture, such as in Galatians chapter 5.  So, look and see where the Holy Spirit is working in your heart, see what God is teaching you.

Think about the lessons in patience that you can learn as you wait for the Lord!  Scripture often exhorts us to wait …

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Psalm 27:14  

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31  

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7

Think about the lessons in peace and faithfulness that you can learn as you trust God to guide your steps …

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 28:7

… For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

oregon-lighthouse-and-gps-c
Lighthouse and GPS — the old and new navigation tools meet along the Oregon coastline.

God will lead us as surely as the lighthouse pointed the way to the seafaring voyagers and as specifically as our modern GPS technology allows.  (Both are noted in this picture from the Oregon coast, the lighthouse on the left and the GPS on the roof of the adjacent building.)

We usually don’t know why we have an “elongated route” on our road with the Lord.  We can’t see His reason for taking us along that way at that time, but we don’t need to know all that.  All we need to know is that we are in the Hands of our loving Father. 

Charles R. Swindoll said it like this in Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life (Zondervan):

“We’re not supposed to have airtight answers! Why? Because our understanding is earthbound. . . . Our focus is from the ground up. . . . We see now, He sees forever. We judge on the basis of the temporal; He, on the basis of the eternal. . . . His vantage point is infinity.”

Trust this Lord who will teach us lessons while we are going along the “elongated route”. He knows our ultimate destination and He has planned our trip so when we get to our destination, we will have the ability to do the assignment that He has for us to do.  The lengthened route may be designed to quiet your soul so that you can hear His voice speaking words of calm, encouragement, direction, and strength into your heart and soul.  It certainly did that for me.    

The classic hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” expresses the desire to grow in our Lord while we are “waiting, yielded and still”.  Here is the hymn as sung on the album Hymns in the Vineyard.

 

Give Him the keys to your life.  And keep your eyes on Him as He directs your path.

Father, I praise Your name for Your faithfulness and patience as You teach me lessons even when I am complaining about having to wait or when I am unsure of where You are directing me to go.   Enable me to have faith sufficient to simply hand over the keys to my life to You and then let me ride along on the trip that You have planned out for me.  Mold me and make me after Your will, so all can see Christ only always living in me.   

 

Pedal! and Perseverance

There is a story that I came across many years ago, and it speaks to me as I consider my journey with Jesus Christ.  It has been duplicated numerous times so you may already have heard it, but I do ask that you read it and think, again, about your own perseverance in the Christian walk. 

At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn’t KNOW him.

But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has not been the same since he took over steering the bike.

When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable… it was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds, it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said “Pedal”.

I worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure.  And when I’d say, “I’m scared,” He would lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy.  They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord’s and mine.  And we were off again.  He said “Give the gifts away, they’re extra baggage, too much weight.”  So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and yet still our burden was light.

Perseverance
Perseverance in Pedaling!

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore, He just smiles and says … “Pedal!”

(Author unknown)

 

There are many theological words we could insert into this story, but the verbal picture drawn for us is sufficient for our purposes.  Life is hard – the Christian life is harder, especially if you try to do it on your own.  Your way is simply not good enough … we cannot live a sinless life.  That is the reason that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was necessary.  We need to come to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and repentance, and only then can we rely on His strength to enable us to persevere.

 

In Second Timothy Paul encourages the young pastor to endure even when the “going gets tough”.  In these days of the Olympics in Rio, we can more fully understand Paul’s reference:

 

An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

2 Timothy 2:5.

 

It is foolish for us to think we can satisfy God on our own, that we can compete in this world according to our rules and not those of the Creator God as established in the Bible.  Do we really think we are bigger and know better than God?  REALLY?

 

Sin has broken the connection between us and the Creator God.  There simply is nothing that we can do to fix that situation because anything we do is just as dirty and sinful as we are.  There must be Someone Who lived a perfect, sinless life, and Who was willing to be the sacrifice to pay for the sins that we have committed, so that we could be reunited with God.  That Person is Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

 

The Apostle Paul says:

 

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22.  The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of salvation and perseverance.  What a blessing!

 

Jesus describes our security in Him as we persevere in our walk with Him in the Gospel of John:

 

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:37-40.

 

The Apostle John reiterates that which Jesus spoke in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  Regarding Jesus presenting us to His Father in Heaven if we are faithful to Him, Revelation 3:5 states:

 

The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

 

Perseverance in the Christian life.  It really is not based on our own efforts. We must yield control of our life to Christ, but even that we cannot do on our own!  Rather it is an ability that we receive from the Lord as the Holy Spirit indwells us and supplies the power that we personally do not have. 

 

We still must run the race and exert as much effort that we can muster, as if we were athletes competing in the Olympics, but at the end of the day we must recognize that it is God who worked through us.  The Apostle Paul reminds us:

 

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7.

 

So, when you want to give up on your Christian walk, when you feel totally inadequate, when you think that you can give no more … listen to Jesus say “Pedal”.  Rely on Him and He will see you through as He uses you for His purposes, all to His glory and honor.

 

 

Father, forgive me when I have foolishly tried to do Your work in my own strength.  What folly!  Enable me to see when I am grabbing control and let me release my grip and rely on You. May my reliance on You be my first choice, instead of my last resort. Forgive me, Lord. Your way is always the best, most beautiful and enduring way there could possibly be. Thank you Father for calling me and for granting me the blessing of a relationship with Your Son and the presence of Your Holy Spirit.