Wednesday, May 8, 2013


It's easy to read Scripture like yesterday's passage from Ezra and come to the wrong conclusions.  For a quick refresher, here is the passage I'm talking about:

I had this group gather by the river that flows to Ahava, and we camped there for three days.  ...Then I announced a fast there at the Ahava River so that we might humble ourselves in the presence of God to ask him for a safe journey for ourselves, for our little ones, and for all our goods.  I was ashamed to ask the king for an armed escort with cavalry to help us against enemy attack on the way.  We had already told the king, 'Our God works things out for the good of everyone who dedicates his life to serving him, but his power and his anger oppose everyone who abandons him.'  (15, 21-22)

Ezra was ashamed to ask for help.  Ever feel like Ezra?

He was ashamed because he'd already proclaimed faith in his God, and so many of us are the same way.  We want to believe God is big enough, strong enough, good enough that we can rely completely on Him for the need in our lives.  We can fully trust, fully believe, and fully hope in all that God has promised to.  Not only can we, we think, but we should.  Christians, we conclude, never need to ask for help.

God is our help.

And that's bunk.  Ok, partial bunk.  It's not Biblical.

Yes, we ought to be a people who fully believe in the power and the presence and the promise of our God, particularly when we make bold declarations of our faith.  I think we would be even more in awe of God if we would simply put our trust in Him as often as we say we do and give ourselves wholly to Him.  But we need to be a people who aren't afraid to ask for help, too.  Contradictory?  No.

Because God created help.

God created an entire world to hold a single man.  He created a single man to fill that world, but He saw that the created man was not enough.  The man could not manage everything by himself, particularly not in a lonely heart.  He needed a helper, a partner, a friend.  So God created woman.  And literally, she is called a "helpmate."

God created help for Adam, for a man who walked hand-in-hand with a tangible God in a beautiful garden and would have had in his very presence the fullness of the Creator Himself.  God could have, and did, take care of everything that Adam would need.  In His mighty power, complete omniscience, omnipresence, and constant presence, God could have been everything Adam ever would have wanted.  Yet He still created help.

Kind of changes your view on help, doesn't it?

It's not just Eve, and it's not just the garden.  Throughout Scripture, God reminds His people of their community.  He reminds them to live together, to work together, to move together, to love together.  How terrible it is for a man who is all alone, one verse says, because when he falls, there is no one to help him up. Paul teaches about the parts of the body, the gifts of the church.  It is because we are working together that we are able to do incredible works of the Lord.  It is the way we each contribute what we have - the way we help one another - that even our communities of faith are able to grow and serve.  

I am the kind of person who is very hesitant to ask for, or accept, help.  Most people know this about me.  It's why I usually end up doing something more than once - because the first time?  I tried to do it myself when it was really a two-man job.  I want to be capable.  I want to be strong.  I want to do the things I want to or need to or volunteered to do and I don't want to bother anybody else to help me.  If you're like me, you run yourself ragged trying to do everything yourself and you're exhausted.  As we should be.  Most of what we do here wasn't made for one man.

It was made for one man and a helpmate.  An individual and a community.  God created community so we could do this thing together.  And we ought to be doing just that.

There is a place for faith in our lives, a good place.  A prominent place.  A blessed and hallowed and holy place where we need to be a people who firmly believe and won't back down, who turn back to God and devote ourselves to Him and His promises.  But there is a place in our lives for help, too.  A good place.  A blessed and hallowed and holy place where we lean on one another while we gather before God to do His work and to love one another.

As God created and commanded.  

We need only be unashamed to ask.

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