One of the greatest answers to prayer for Helen and me over the past year has been watching our 17-year-old bounce back from a less-than-stellar academic performance in the 2nd half of his freshman year of high school last year. It isn’t so much that he’s killing it all of a sudden or has come back from some sort of a college preparatory abyss, it’s more about the learning he’s derived … life learning. What he’s learned is about effort, sure, but more critically about seeking, accepting, and embracing help. Letting go of the type of thinking that says, “I can do it,” or “I need to do it,” on my own.
My reading this week toured me through Luke 13 – 16, something hit me in a powerful way. It drew me into a recognition of the heart of our Lord … the heart of Someone that longs to help. I’ll explain …
In Luke 13:34-35, Jesus calls out,
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned. And you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
The longing Jesus describes in this passage, while expressing a different particular application, nonetheless still demonstrates His intense love and paternal attention to our most deeply-felt needs. The visual of a mother hen tucking her baby chicks under her wing, near the warmth of her safety and the beating of her heart, provides a vivid perspective of how Jesus desired to care for His beloved Jerusalem, and how He wants to care for us today.
Yet in the same way that Jerusalem denied His heartfelt extension of relief and comfort, I would suggest we deny it today.
It’s sort of like our son, and much I guess like many teenage boys in general, who initially bristled at the idea of getting help for his studies. To him, it was either a sign of weakness to accept help, or it was a prideful sense of feeling that he needed to figure out how to solve the issue himself … sort of like needing to pull himself up by his own bootstraps. Whatever the motive, for a time the help that was offered and / or provided was unused, unappreciated, and therefore ineffective. The result was a lack of improvement and a lack of progress, as well as frustration (for all of us) and futility … futility that resulted from the resistance.
And thus it works for us in everyday life. The day-to-day struggles, which we might write-off as mundane, inconsequential or overinflated, are treated as beneath the loving Savior who stands before us with arms stretched wide, pleading with us to allow Him to love us in the manner He desires, to help us in the manner in which only He can. And yet, we choose to ignore Him or to decline His offer of assistance. Why? Because we declare our battles … the issues of life … beneath Him, not worthy of His deity and power. Or, we insist on cleaning up our own messes, or on sprucing up our situations before we present our remaining issues to Him. Perhaps we, like a teenager, feel stupid and incapable if we can’t help ourselves … after all, isn’t there a saying, “God helps those who help themselves”? (actually, that saying is not Biblical, and I think it is better rendered “God helps those who can’t help themselves.”)
And still He waits, lamenting our unwillingness to receive Him and His care. All we need to do is hand it over to Him.
How about us? Are there things we’re holding onto, about which Jesus is looking upon us and asking us, “Please, let Me help you. Let me take that burden off of you.” Perhaps it’s a relational struggle through which we’re going. Perhaps it’s an area of sin with which we’re wrestling. Perhaps it’s a health scare for someone we love … or even for us … that is haunting us. Perhaps it’s financial issues that are paralyzing us with fear and uncertainty. Whatever the matter, rest assured the enormity of the burden is ever increased by our trying to bear it without Jesus. He created the entire universe through His spoken word, surely our travails are within His ability to help.
Besides, He stands there at the ready to take it away from us, and to lovingly embrace us and tuck us under his arm and assure us all will be well … just like a mother hen with her chicks.
Let’s go to the Lord in prayer this week and ask Him to reveal to us that which we’re holding onto that is overwhelmingly encumbering us. Let’s ask Him for the strength to admit our weakness and to loosen the tightfisted grip on those things that bemoan us. Let’s ask for the ability to see His help not as our limitation, but through Him as our lack of limitations. Let’s ask for the power to overcome through the power of letting go. Let’s stop resisting His love and relief and by so doing, experience the eradication of the futility life can otherwise bring.
He’s standing there, arms wide, waiting for us to do just that.
Firmly letting go,