This is, thus far, the only comment on a friend’s facebook post about the impending doom of a doctor’s visit after injuring her back doing home repairs. This person is a single parent who recently lost a parent and has a special needs child. Not asking for help is not new territory for this friend. Despite my (and several friends’) urging to go into IEP meetings with a parent advocate, to apply for SSI for her child (she’s a single parent, so it could happen) which she could do over the phone to help pay for her child’s numerous treatments, and join various support groups so she wouldn’t feel more alone, this friend prides herself on being a person who can do it ALL herself ALL the time.
Which is even more interesting because she is an evangelical Christian who goes to a local mega-church. Everything is all God is my homeboy for her, but she cannot see the people God has placed in her life to help her. She can’t see that God gave us each other because we can’t make it through this life alone.
When we ask for help from God, are we like my friend, and insist God only help us under our terms? Her terms being, “let me do it all by myself?” God tends to thrust those of us like my friend, and ahem, like myself, who would rather avoid human contact into situations where we HAVE to ask for help. And then it’s up to us. I’ve made two wonderful friends in the last few years that I can ask for almost anything from. I hate doing it, but I have asked for a ride for me and the boys from one and to print important documents I needed for Shelby from the other. And both of them think it is no big deal, not an imposition at all.
I remember a joke my grandfather once told about a priest in a town near a river that was flooding. The priest said he would stay at the church because God would save him. As the water approached the bottom of the church steps, the police chief came by in a rowboat and asked the priest to jump in. The priest refused saying, “Oh, no, I will stay here with the church, God will protect me from any harm.” As the water reached the top of the church steps, the police chief came by again and again the priest refused. Finally, the water was up to the church roof and the police chief came by and once again, the priest refused. The priest died of drowning and went to heaven. One day in heaven, the priest came upon God and said, “God, I stayed with the church, why didn’t you save me?” To which God responded “I sent the rowboat THREE times!”
How often are we like the priest in that joke? How often to we ask God for help and then say, “Not what I had in mind God,” when the help He provides is not what we expected. Say for example, instead of a large deposit in a Swiss bank account in our name, a job offer comes up to help us pay down our medical debt? Or ask God for the strength to complete a project but instead of our own physical strength God sends us friends who offer to help that we never respond to? When we fail to ask God for help and when we fail to take his gifts of help in answer to prayer, we are all guilty of pride. Pride that says, “I won’t bother God with this, instead I’ll just do it myself.” Why wouldn’t you “bother” God with it? Do you think He who created the universe and all who inhabit it cannot handle your measly problems? Do you think your problems aren’t important enough? If you’re not praying to the omnipotent, the sovereign, the Alpha and the Omega who loves you beyond anything you can understand and who always finds your worries and problems important enough, well, I’m not sure who you’re praying to, but I’m sure it’s NOT God. And I say this as I confess I am guilty of trying take my own problems and sneak off with them or, worse, take them to God, lay it all out, then try to take them back.
God did not create us in a vacuum. He created us in a world. With other people. And it would be incredibly dense of us to think so highly of our own ability which has only been endowed by our creator to think, “I, and I alone, am the ONLY person who can solve all these problems. We need to rely on God. To trust Him and His promises. And we need to realize that help is not always coming in the form we expect, when we ask, we need to be ready to receive what He gives.