Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Without me ye can do nothing"

            This past Wednesday night I was in my usual spot while home from college, in my college class at church. Don’t worry, this story is going somewhere. Our college minister and his wife have two young children, the older being a girl and the younger a boy. For some reason, they are one of the few people on Earth who have taken a liking to my brother and me. They seem to gravitate towards my brother more, which is fine because most of the time their play involves violence towards us (and really only us). I happened to be playing a pool table game (we’d just created it) with their son when their daughter walked up and decided to join. My brother came on the scene and she took a swing at him, sending her cup of water she’d brought over off the pool table and hitting the foosball table. It was what followed that gave me the inspiration for writing.
            The water had made quite a mess. It was down the side of the foosball table, on the tile floor under it, and on much of the floor between it and the pool table. There was a lot of water to clean up. Now, this was not the first time I had cleaned up one of this girl’s messes. This is the same girl who punched a plate of meatballs and accompanying sauce on my shirt (and a little on my pants too). So I told her not to worry about it, and I didn’t want her parents to worry, so I went into the kitchen area and grabbed some napkins. But something surprised me. She was not ignoring the water like I might have expected her to.
            She had run into the kitchen area as well and grabbed some tissues off the counter. Bless her heart, she was fighting a losing battle. There was so much water, and she had about four tissues she was sliding around the entire puddle. I came over with the napkins and started to lay them down.
            “I got this,” she said. “I’ve almost got it cleaned up.”
            She continued to slide the tissues around, completely soaked and slightly widening the already large pool of water. I got part of it up with my napkins.
            “There, that should do it,” she said, looking at a still good-sized puddle.
            I proceeded to clean off the hosed down foosball table.
            “Yeah, just get that spot there,” she instructed.
            She went about other things, I think playing with my brother, and I went back to the kitchen to get more napkins and finished getting up the water that was left.
            As I was wiping up the rest of the mess she had made, I thought about just how much that situation with the girl is like us as Christians. So often we get ourselves into a mess. We are told to get rid of sin in our lives, we know that. But that is not always an easy thing. When sin becomes habitual, or for that rate even when any other problem or decision arises, we need to take it to God.
            “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Prov. 3:5-7)
            “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
            But instead what do we do? We try to clean it up ourselves. We try to handle it ourselves. Whatever problems, or sin, or decisions that arise in the course of human life, we decide we can handle on our own.
            “I got this.”
            And we think we’ve done so good with our little bit of tissues, just smearing and sloshing around our sin and our problems, and going our own way with our decisions.
            It’s what the world says to do, isn’t it?
            I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, the world is all about the independent person. You take care of yourself. You solve your own problems. You make your own decisions. You control your own life, your own destiny, your own future. It’s your life; make of it what you want. They throw out those messages of self-esteem and self-worth. We have to be confident and proud of our accomplishments.
            “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Rom. 12:3)
            “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)
            “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (I John 5:14-15)
            “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18)
            We’re over here with our soaked tissues, saying, “There, that should do it.” When if we’re completely honest with ourselves, we have no idea what we’re doing. I’ve learned too many times the pull of sin is too strong on a human. I’ve learned the hard way that going through hard times on my own is foolish, and making decisions on my own is even dumber.
            Then how do we avoid the messes? We don’t, we’re human. But God is standing there saying, “I got this.” He’s ready to clean up spills every time we cause them and every time we’re presented with them. What we have to do is be willing to let Him step in and do it. Because we know we can’t, and we know He can.
            “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
            It takes us abiding in Christ. It takes us spending time with Him, praying to Him, seeking Him in His Word. We have to totally abandon ourselves to Him. Because apart from Him we can’t accomplish anything.
            We’re just children of God who always seem to be getting into messes. So often we are actually stupid enough to think that we can handle things on our own. Won’t you step back and let God clean things up?

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