Monday, June 1, 2009

'Little help down here?!...Little help please?!...'

That was a pretty weekend. I walked 15 or so miles. Who walks 15 miles? I don't even like to DRIVE 15 miles. But, it was fun and it was good so there you go.

(These are my thoughts only and they could be wrong so, head's up!, but ...) Hey, you’ve got to love your Ben Franklin. Not many guys can get away with that combination of hairdo, spectacles and knickers. And buckled shoes.

Wise man. But he might have fumbled here with a saying many think is in the Bible but is actually in a 1757 “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” Franklin wrote, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Not hardly. No way.

Paul writes in Romans 5:6: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

Without strength. Powerless.

Unable to help ourselves.

If God wants me to dig a hole, He’ll suggest I grab a shovel. I need a burger cooked? He won’t fire up the grill for me. He is no celestial butler. That’s what Ben meant.

But in life’s more meaningful places and with our own shovels, we dug ourselves into deeper and deeper holes. Turned up the heat. A culture that demands self-sufficiency, that suggests your justification lies in 'things down here,' does a good job of pushing us along. Maybe even over the cliff.

Remember the day you realized you were helpless, the day you came to the end of yourself? If not, you'll get there. Most of us think we're whole. We don't need a doctor. We all need a Savior -- just not THAT one. And we don't call them "saviors." But that's what they are, or what we want them to be. We look for all the usual suspects to save us; and they do, for a while.

Until ... the bottom disappears. Most of us have to be pretty mangled, I've heard it said, until we surrender, not just in our minds, but in our hearts. I'd surrendered in my head for years and years and it did me no good; it probably made things worse.

But a person humbled and convinced of his helplessness doesn't have a big problem pulling up to the pump and saying, "I'm out. You drive. And I'm not just asking for the tanks to be topped off. I'm saying I'm empty, done, and more done." That’s when the God who created us hears our cry, hears our hearts, and comes down. It wasn't a case of my thinking as before, "Just give me a little help, get me back on my feet, I'll try harder..." and all like that. Won't work.

Entirely broken is what works.

That’s when we find out that God helps those who can’t help themselves. Which pretty much covers us all. It’s the story of the Gospel.

Paul reminds us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Isaiah declares God a “defense for the helpless.” Can't do anything if we're not branches hooked onto the "vine." Our resumes don’t look like much until the Christ who can do all things strengthens us, since we can’t do a lick. Then he gives us his resume, covers us with his medals, sets up shop in what was his home all along. That's when the changes start: it's not something from inside that we did; it's a person from the outside who has moved in.

It’s sort of important to remember, because when I forget, I begin listening to the same person who got me into the mess I faced that day I said the prayer God had been waiting to hear: