“I do it MYSELF!” My toddler knocked away my hand and yanked her shoe onto the wrong foot.
“We won’t need meals delivered after his surgery. It’ll be fine.” The woman’s smile did little to obscure the dark circles under her eyes.
“I don’t need Jesus. I’m doing okay on my own.” My friend folded her arms across her chest.
Pride often keeps us from accepting help, even when we desperately need it. Is it a fear of looking weak and foolish? Or because we think we can do everything better ourselves?
I’d never realized I struggled with pride until I was paddling on Monterey Bay. Or should I say I was trying to paddle.
On a similar outing two years before, I’d had the time of my life. The water had been glassy-smooth, and otters had frolicked right up to my boat. This time the wind whipped the waves into high swells. As soon as I launched, the bracket under my foot popped loose and slid out of my reach. I was paddling with nothing to brace myself against.
I didn’t think it would be a problem. Paddling is about using your arms, right? Apparently it also uses your legs. After ten minutes, I was tired. After 20, my back and core muscles were a quivering mess. At 40, I knew I was in trouble. Could I even make it back to the beach? The wind was blowing me backward toward the rocky part of the shore instead of the sandy cove from which I’d launched.
Tears sprang to my eyes as I finally signaled for help. I imagined the young staff person on the beach was laughing at the overweight tourist who couldn’t figure out how to get back.
She rowed out and threw me a tether. “Don’t worry, I’ll tow you in.”
Towed, like a broken down car. I hung my head and gripped the line. This wouldn’t have happened if I were in better shape. Younger. Smarter. A huge swell knocked my kayak sideways. I couldn’t hold onto the rope and keep my boat in line, too. After this happened several times, the girl sighed. “Sit tight. I’ll go get another guide to help me.”
I’m so pathetic I need two rescuers. I clung to a long strand of kelp to keep myself from being washed further down the beach.
A lump grew in my throat. I couldn’t let myself be dragged back to shore like harpooned whale. I’m strong and capable. After a few deep breaths, I turned the boat toward the surf. Ignoring the stabbing pain in my back, I dug the oar into the water and pushed the craft forward. The waves knocked me around, but I managed to flounder my way to safety.
The guides looked up in surprise. “You didn’t need to do that. We were coming for you.”
“I know,” I panted. A tiny part of me took pride in my accomplishment. Even with a broken boat, high surf, and aching muscles—I’d taken care of myself.
A larger part of me was embarrassed. What if I’d been knocked into the rocks? What if I’d capsized and my spent muscles refused to cooperate? Why couldn’t I wait for the promised rescue?
Many of us struggle with accepting help. God even had to teach the apostle Paul about pride. We don’t know exactly what “thorn” the Father had given him, but when Paul asked for it to be removed, God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul turned all of our self-sufficient boasting on its head in the lines that followed. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
When I am weak, then I am strong? Admitting my weaknesses and asking for help—that makes me strong?
Yes. Because then, as Paul stated, “…Christ’s power may rest on me.”
When I demand to be self-sufficient, when I refuse assistance, when I shrug off rescue—I’m doing everything in my own power. My power is pretty pitiful. The kayak taught me that.
But God’s power? I’d like a little more of that, please. Wouldn’t we all?
|Abingdon Press, June 2015|
Beyond the Ashes: Golden Gate Chronicles 2
Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love. Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed. Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?