Devotional: Our Desperate Need for Christ
When I was young, my parents realized that I had an overwhelming affection for horses. Thankfully, they nurtured this love of mine and enabled me to take riding lessons as early as three years old. For my sixth birthday, they bought me a pony. Lady Jasmine, or Jaz (as she was more affectionately known), was as naughty as she was cute. I spent about as much time on her back as I did in the dirt. I struggled to tack up by myself and there were several things that I couldn’t do because I was small and weak. As I grew in my skill and strength, I learned how to ride through her antics. I could groom and tack up by myself, muck the stall AND empty the wheelbarrow, and I even learned how to climb up on her without help. I was praised for growing in my independence and as I continued to develop my skills, I learned to do more things on my own. I became confident in my ability and grew up to be one of the independent trainers I had admired as a girl.
Isn’t this the way of the world? We are praised for our independence and our ability to do things on our own. People who succeed in business are the ones who take control and “get the job done”. Women who are stay at home moms are expected to have a “side hustle” and students are evaluated as harshly for their extracurricular activities as they are for their grades. It’s about what we bring to the table and what we are doing; are we productive? Are we successful? Do our accomplishments make us valuable?
Thankfully, this is not the perspective of our Lord, but it was mine when I first came to have a relationship with him a few years ago. One of the ways I first felt God calling me to exercise my faith was by going on the Harvest mission trip to Cherokee, North Carolina. I was so excited for this trip! I couldn’t wait to share Jesus with the people we were going to meet. I was helping lead VBS and was excited to sing and play with the kids! I was ready to rough it in a cabin and be a team player. I was focused on all the things I was going to do in my own strength; I was not relying on the strength and power of the Lord.
I quickly realized that my strength was not going to sustain me on this trip. On July 10, 2017 (our second day there), I made a journal entry that begins with, “I had no idea that I was going to be so completely tired.” I proceeded to ask God to help me because I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the rest of the week. The following entry, made on July 11th, reads as follows:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you. Thank you for today and for giving me exactly what I needed. You have refreshed my soul and renewed my spirit, and it feels wonderful. Listening to our team reflect this evening on all of the amazing interactions we have been having was incredible. And the thing I have realized is that we are doing none of this on our own. We are not reaching these people Lord, it is you. Yesterday when I felt my strength failing me, it was you Lord who lifted me up and made me new. There was nothing that I could have done on my own to prepare my heart, mind, and body for the rest of this week, but you Lord gave me the strength that I was so desperately seeking.
All of my independence, my strength, my accomplishments, and my deeds, were futile. God worked in my weakness to show me my desperate need for Him. As Pastor Barry said in his sermon on Sunday, we enter the kingdom of God through humility and a helpless, desperate need for Him. It’s not our performance that earns our salvation, nor is it up to us to finish the work of our salvation through our deeds and efforts. God showed this to me when I found myself overwhelmed and exhausted by the expectations I had placed upon myself. It was in my weakness and my recognition of that weakness, that God revealed His love and grace.
Jesus says in Mark 10:15 – “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” When I was a child, I knew that I needed help to groom and tack up my pony. But as I got older, I became independent, dismissing the need for help and relying on my own skills instead. In much the same way, as we grow in our independence, we become reliant upon ourselves, dismissing our need for Jesus and resting in our own works instead. Brothers and sisters, I know what this is like. My experience on the mission trip was the first in a long line of occurrences in which God has reminded me of my weakness and His strength. But as Pastor Barry also said, recognizing our sin and our weakness is a gift because it shows us our need for Christ. As you seek Him today, ask the Lord where you are trying to finish your salvation with your works. Ask Him to help you live in the freedom that comes from knowing your salvation is not up to you so that you may embrace your desperate need for Jesus. And take heart, my friends, that we have a savior who has overcome it all to meet every need we could possibly have.