by: Jennifer Barten
I’ve got this,’ you’ve all heard me say it after offering to help me with some project or task. Most of you, after hearing me use that phrase, still persist and try to help. A few of you go as far to lecture me about how I need to accept help so I don’t get burnt out or overwhelmed.
I hope most of you know me well enough to know and trust that when I say I’ve got this, the job will get done and it will get done by deadline.
As long as I don’t have to be in two places at once and can do it on my own, I normally do. I like to be independent and I don’t like relying on others or feeling like I am burdening someone by asking for help.
I know I could ask any number of you for help often and you would help, not thinking a thing of it but trust me, I’ve got this.
I recently realized though, there is one problem with my I’ve got this attitude. Bigger than that I need to learn to rely on others. Bigger than that I have independency issues and bigger than I might someday get burnt out.
I’ve been lying to myself and to you. You see, the truth is, I have recently realized, I don’t have this.
Every time I tell you and myself that I have this…whatever this is…I take God out of the equation. I am telling you I can do it on my own and I can’t.
God created me to be organized, energetic, positive and gave me my work ethic. That all makes me feel like I’ve got this. Like I can do things on my own but I can’t. I must remember he gave me attributes that make me able to multitask and have energy to keep going longer than most people think I should in order to do his work and not mine.
Along with giving me the attributes, I must remember that he is with me each and every step of the way. And while I’ve been focusing on me, even if you haven’t said the words, ‘I’ve got this’ at some point in your life, you have said something similar: I’m almost done so will just finish myself; it’s easier if I just do it or it’s quicker for me to just do it than to teach someone else.
All these phrases and so many more, imply that we got this. That we haven’t talked to or consulted God and that he isn’t helping us every step of the way.
Pricilla Shirer said “God wants to help you to grow by allowing you to see what He can do when you admit you can’t.”
Throughout the Bible we see places where the people think they’ve got this and don’t. The first bad girl of the Bible is a great example. Giving Eve my personality, this is what I think happened in the Garden of Eden. Eve gets bored of being friends with just Adam and decides to become friends with the only other talking creature in the Garden. Time and time again Adam tells her not to be friends with the serpent, that he just can’t trust the creature and that there is something off about him. Eve refuses to listen though, saying ‘what harm is there in being friends with a talking lizard? I will be fine, Adam. Stop worrying so much. I’ve got this.’ That ended well for her…
David though, took a different approach. No matter if he was fighting a giant, figuring out how to best be king or living his daily life, David always knew God was right there with him. Many times in the Bible, you can find David giving credit to God for his victories in battle and his prosperous life.
In the scripture that Shawn read for us today, we find Jesus saying that people must give up everything in order to make it into heaven. He tells his disciples this after a young man had came up to Jesus and asked what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus names a few of the commandments saying you shouldn’t live in adultery, steal or give false testimony. The young man gets excited, saying he has done all these things and ask what else he must do. At that point Jesus tells him he must give up all of his wealth and come follow Jesus. The man walks away sad because he is unwilling to do this.
Jesus then says to the disciples that all things are possible through Christ and we see just that in the very next chapter.
The start of the next chapter is Zacchaeus’ story. We all know the story…he’s a tax collector. He goes around and takes additional money from the people so he can pocket some for himself. The people know this is happening and hate him because of what he doing to them and because of his riches. He hears Jesus is coming to town and wants to see him but he’s little so climbs a tree so he can have a look. When Jesus walks by he hollers at Zacchaeus to come down. While the people are all mumbling about how horrible Zacchaeus is, he has a change of heart and promises to give half of all his wealth to the poor and pay everyone back four times the amount he owns them.
I love that these two stories are just one chapter apart. I love that in the first we see a guy who thinks he can’t do something and probably thinks it’s impossible but the very next chapter, we see someone able to accomplish it because of God’s help.
Going back to the story about the young man, I often wonder what the disciples were thinking as they heard Jesus talking.
Perhaps the disciples were thinking, “This guy seemed like he was doing everything right except one thing and he’s not getting in. That seems unfair.” Jesus highlights that it is impossible for man to save himself; only God has the power to save. The man thought he could do something to be saved.
I think people often have that same misconception today. They think we’ve got this and can help themselves and work their way into heaven. But there’s only one person who can save us and it isn’t us- it’s Jesus. He did everything because we can do nothing.
If we believe, ‘God helps those who help themselves’ then we have a pride problem. We give ourselves an I’ve got this attitude, making ourselves out to be self-sufficient, able to do things on our own.
However, with that said, the statement does hold some truth. God won’t help those who are unwilling to do what he wants them to do. He isn’t going to reward laziness. If we ask God for help finding a job but am unwilling to look for one it’s unlikely he will drop one in our lap.
That works in a practical way as well as in spiritual growth. If we think spiritual growth is just going to automatically happen without any effort on our part we are sadly mistaken. If we expect God to just automatically remove sin from our life or just snap his fingers and make us more wise and patient and loving then we have a wrong understanding. Out of his great mercy God may do some things without any effort on our part but most of the time these things involve a partnership-God doing his part and us doing our.
While nothing God calls us to do is easy, we are quicker to hear God’s voice and stay calmer when we use the power of prayer.
There once was a famous missionary named Taylor Hudson that was going to China to carry the gospel.
He was on a ship in an area of the ocean that ships had trouble getting through. One morning the Captain of the ship knew they were in trouble. So he ran to the man of God’s room and knocked on his door. When Hudson opened the door and could see alarm on the Captain’s face. The Captain explained: “We have no wind and are drifting dangerously close to the Island of Cannibals!!”
Hudson replied: “OK, I will pray for wind but you must go immediately and set the sails.”
The Captain said: “Sir, the sailors on this ship will say I am crazy, if I give the orders to set the sails and there is no wind.”
Hudson demanded: Before I pray you must set the sails and prepare to steer the course. The Captain agreed to set the sails if Hudson would pray. About 45 minutes later the Captain was running and returned to Hudson’s room. The Captain said: “Sir you must stop praying, we have more wind than we can handle!”
When we pray according to God’s will and trust in him all things are possible. Perhaps our problem when we pray is we often put limits on what God can do. Often we can think our problem, circumstance or situation is beyond the scope of God’s ability or we pray to specifically telling God what we want or need thinking we’ve got this and are in control. God can do more than we can ever imagine and when we put limits on God, we are putting limits on what he can do in our lives.
If we think that our problems are bigger than God is able or willing to handle, then we show a lack of faith in the God who loves and cares for us.
As disciples of Christ we need to stop our doubts and focus our faith on what God is able to do in and through us. We need to trust God more, instead of thinking God might answer prayer we need to be confident that God always answers prayer. We have a simple choice to make, we can pray, believe and receive or we can pray, doubt and go without.
There once was a chicken and corn farmer going through a drought. The farmer was raising chickens to sale, along with their eggs to pay off the debt on his farm. The corn was dying and all the crops were failing because millions of grasshoppers were destroying everything green. At dinner time the farmer told his wife they were going to lose everything they had worked so hard for.
His wife said: NO! God will provide a way. God always has, and He always will and she had them get down to pray.
Awhile later the farmer was on his tractor driving over the farm and he saw the damage was getting worse with the grasshoppers roaming at will.
The man turned the tractor off and climbed down and fell to his knees. He began praying with all his heart. He said: Now, Lord we have trusted you and your plans since we were married. Our family is going to lose the farm and we will be hungry and we may face death as a slow and painful process. We have always trusted you but now the grasshoppers seem to have defeated us. Our chickens are dying and they are laying no eggs. We have nothing but our hope in you and it looks like that is going to die also.” As the man was kneeling by the old John Deer and he thought he heard a voice?
He listened very closely and he heard a voice very plainly. “Let the chickens out of the house!” The man quickly replied: “God we can’t let the chickens out of the house, they will run wild and we will never be able to catch them.”
The old man heard the voice again: “Trust me and let the chickens out of the house.”
At dinner time the man told his wife what the crazy voice had told him.
The faithful wife responded: “Why not? They will die anyway if we don’t give it a try? Why not trust the Lord as we always have!” At 4:30 the next morning the old man went to the huge hen houses and just flew open the doors. Slowly the chickens wander out and they began eating the grasshoppers. The skinny weak chickens thrived on the grasshoppers and each evening the chickens returned to roost in the house.
It is so often easy to look at a situation and not understand it, like the farmer did. Thinking we know better and that we have got this so we don’t listen to God. We always need to be the faithful wife though, who trust even when something doesn’t make sense.
In her daily devotional book, Sarah Young writes through God, “Since I am infinite, ‘impossibilities’ are My specialty. I delight in them because they display My Glory so vividly. They also help you live the way I intended: in joyful, trusting dependence on Me. The next time you face an ‘impossible’ situation, turn to Me immediately with a hopeful heart.”
At certain times we all do better about going to God than others. Most of us go to him when we are thankful or when someone is sick asking him to heal them or us but most us don’t do as well going to Him when life is going good and we’ve got this. We don’t do as well going to him with our daily issues and thoughts.
Many studies have shown that American’s don’t think they need to rely on God because majority of the time our daily needs are met.
According to pastor and writer Francis Chan, because we don’t usually have to depend on God for food or money to buy any of our main needs, we don’t feel needy. In fact, because of this we often think of ourselves as fairly independent and capable. Even if we aren’t rich, we are doing just fine and have got this figured out.
If 100 people represented the world’s population, 53 of those would live on less than $2 a day.
Even if we don’t have as much as many Americans, we are financially rich compared to most of the rest of the world, making it easy for us to think that we don’t need to depend on God for many things.
In one episode of the Simpsons, Homer asked Bart to pray before eating. Bart then bows his head to pray saying “Thank you God for nothing since we paid for all of this ourselves and got it at the grocery store.”
Even though we would never say that and none of us are that ungrateful, how often are we ungrateful without knowing it? How often are we lost in our own thoughts and don’t take time to appreciate whatever it is that God has put right in front of us?
Part of being faithful is listening when God speaks, taking time to pray and spend time with God. Another part of being faithful is giving God credit for all the wonderful things he does in our lives and remembering that at no point do we got this.