I love the fact that if we take the time to look, we can find multiple moments in life that are marked by God’s fingerprints. Sometimes we think that He suddenly just shows up, but the truth is He has always been there, ready to insert Himself into the equation of our humanity. It always amazes me that He’s not been put off by my humanity at all, but chooses to instead have His way with it, working in it and through it. Reflections through my own story are woven with such moments. Moments where He was trying to shape, speak, save, bless, create, and simply do life with me. Do you ever wish in those moments He would be a little “less” subtle? What is it with that “still, small voice” He likes to use? If you are like me, you might do better at recognizing Him if He would actually show up with flames of fire like he did for Moses! The cool thing is though, when I finally see His efforts to show up in my past, it is somehow just as comforting to me as if I had caught it day one. His love for me has been demonstrated from before I made it into my sweet mama’s belly, and with nothing of my own hand!
Many of you know that my daughter was a level 8 gymnast until this year, when the time commitment of 20 hours a week began to wear thin and her love for family won out! Though I miss the thrill of the competition, the glam of the outfits, the accolades and medals, the posts upon posts (anybody see an issue…I’m betting yes), I am forever grateful that our hours spent together with our baby girl have increased. Actually, we wish we could get many of those hours back, but that’s another story. What many of you don’t know is that Stella got her mad skills from me. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch. I did however, take gymnastics. Once. For one rec season. My story just didn’t go quite like hers!
My cousin and I were 6 when our parents signed us up for gymnastics at the local recreation department. We had done Brownies, Girl Scouts, and church camp together, but as I recollect, this was our first athletic adventure together. Also, as early as I can recollect, I was driven with a need to be good, to be right, and to win. And God forbid that anyone would need to HELP me achieve any of that. Some would say that’s because I am an Enneagram 1. We like to be good, right, and we definitely like to win. Take a breath, a deep one. At the risk of offending the current trend (I do hate to do that), I wonder how much of our personalities are God given versus environmentally and circumstantially formed—or perhaps nurtured by the inheritance of our sin filled ancestors? Leaving that alone for now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a psyche major. I love personality profiles, especially the Enneagram. I love the study of humanity as much as the next person. I just wonder if those numbers, letters, and descriptions we currently LOVE to LABEL our lives with, are to be used more like opportunities for God to show up and make us more than, rather than to allow for an excuse for who we are.
Week after week for 12 weeks we went to gymnastics. Years later, for the most part the actual class and my performance in it is a blur. I remember the blue matts, my coach’s face, the forward rolls and handstands, and the giggles shared between my cousin and me. What is not a blur however, is our final day, the day we had our performance for parents. When we finished our athletic debut, the crowd applauded us, the coaches hugged us, we received that coveted medal, and our parents were given a white envelope with an enclosed letter. That letter would be the beginning of a God moment for me…one that I didn't recognize at 6, but one that would become so beneficial to my adult self. One that I am forever grateful for because it points to a God who sees me and knows me and has forever longed to make me aware of my innate need for HIM.
It quickly became known to me, that my cousin would be advancing to the next level, but I would be being held back. What the heck?! How in the world could this be? My 6 year-old brain was in meltdown mode. I had just given the performance of a lifetime! Did the coaches literally not see that? How could they miss the perfection of my front roll? Perfect execution coupled with pointed toes and a finishing salute that I can imagine was one for the books. Upon further revelation it became known that advancement was not merely based on skill performance, but on my ability to allow the coaches to HELP me. The letter went something like this: Robbyn is a very good student and displays the physical skill set that would warrant advancement. HOWEVER, she also displays an extremely independent nature that refused to let us HELP her during her weeks with us. Her favorite words are “I can do it!” and “I don’t need you to HELP!” Before advancing her, we would like to spend another session with her working towards building a better RELIANCE relationship between she and the coaches.
Fast forward to so many moments in my life. Asking for help from God and others would be the nemesis to the maturity and growth I so longed for time and time again. Of course, needing God is a given, as is the need for others, it’s just for some of us the guards of self-sufficiency are not so easily lowered. I could write a discourse on the God revelation coupled with self-analyzation of why this independence found root in me. Birth circumstances, early childhood, design of God, and my gifts and callings all play a part. Rather than the discourse though, and years spent discovering my why’s, I find it has often more imperative to grab the info at hand and begin running into what He has graciously challenged me with. As with any revelation, comes the responsibility of moving forward and allowing His fingerprint on our lives to melt our own away.
The Benefits of Help
1. Letting God help us reveals that we are ok with not being enough. More simply stated it means owning and accepting weakness and a genuine need for Jesus beyond just our ticket to Heaven. At the most base level, this is genuine salvation. Salvation is a saving of me. It requires none of me and all of Him. It is ultimately the crucifixion of self and having the God of the universe live and move and have His way in me. It is a yielding of my mind, my will, my abilities, my strengths, my talents, my problems, my everything. For perfectionists, this hurts. Others may perceive that to be an arrogant statement, believe me when I say it’s not that we THINK we are all that and a bag of chips (I wish I could say all that and a “cup of coffee” because I don’t even eat chips). It is that we think we HAVE to be enough for all things, all people, all circumstances, and all challenges. There exists internally a desire to prove our own worthiness and capabilities. This can easily grow into self-sufficiency. This false idea that God needs or requires us to be our own personal ALL IN ALL was banished at the cross. When we disregard His help, we are really saying His blood was great, but our effort is better. At its core, self-reliance keeps us the center of our lives, instead of our creator.
2. Intimacy with God can never truly be reached when we limit His hand in our lives. Without the recognition of His work, strength, wisdom, and hand showing up, our RELATIONSHP with Him tends to be “religious” at best. To know a scripture in our head and to never have experience breathe life in it keeps it stale. Relationship is enhanced by experience. There are so many things in life I have never done, like going to Hawaii. I have seen pictures of my friend’s trips, I have seen beautiful destination videos, and I’ve watched movies that took place there. One time I even gathered research, planned, and priced a Christmas trip to Hawaii for my family of 7 (ha, haha, yeah, that won’t be happening this year!). However, my children have been to Hawaii. I guarantee you if you were talking to me about Hawaii versus them, you would get a totally different feel. Mine would be filled with wishful dreams and sterile facts gotten off google. Nothing that you couldn’t read yourself. They however, would be able to tell you about the sounds, the smells, the lay of the land, the food, the tastes, the people, and their experience. One story would display a genuine intimacy that would emote and tantalize your senses, and the other would be a rambling of information. Jesus longs to be REAL in our lives. He longs for you to actually smell His presence…that’s not weird, the bible actually speaks of His fragrance. The red words and the pages are nothing without an intimate connection that propels us far beyond the limits of head knowledge.
3. Satisfaction in life increases and becomes less messy with His input. Letting God help us limits our human perspective from making a bigger mess of the trials we find ourselves in. Case in point: Adam, the Israelites, Moses, David, Samson, Peter, and Robbyn. Though the 6 year-old doesn’t quite grasp this, it doesn’t take long to figure out that life genuinely works out better with His input. His ways are so much higher than ours. He has seen the end from the beginning. He is wiser and holds the universe in the palm of His hand. The self-reliance I spoke of earlier, doesn’t just lead to a replacement of God on the throne of our heart, but it leads to a life that consistently falls short of being satisfying. We walk around striving, exhausted, anxious, and void of peace when we are left to figuring it out and calling all the shots alone. Sometimes Stella refuses to use the internet to help her with homework, even though the teachers have told her to use any resource she has available at home. Something in her (probably her Momma’s genetics) thinks its cheating and that she must do it on her own. So sweet are the nights she uses her “help”, the grades come up and the stress goes down. Like-wise is it when we too, trust in and rely on our HELPER. Life gets genuinely sweeter, our victories increase, and we live at peace.
Wherever you are in life, I pray that you would embrace the idea that our God is a very present help for you. You don’t have to possess all the answers and have a sure grip on life. The thoughts and plans He has dreamed over you would blow your mind! You simply need to let go and let God! Love ya!