I can remember the instance so very clearly. I was at a discount grocery store, doing my biweekly grocery shopping for our family of seven, so you can imagine what my cart looked like. It was near closing time, and I had made my way to the register without anything falling out of the cart or spilling onto the ground. After I had unloaded about half of my items on the conveyer belt, I noticed the woman behind me—a complete stranger—with only a handful of items in her arms. I thought, “I should have let her go in front of me.” I was already feeling a bit awkward—as I kept piling my load of groceries on the belt—and sweaty as the florescent lights seemed to beam down on my face.
“I like your shoes,” she said. I looked down and was shocked that I actually put on decent shoes for this late night shopping trip, and I thanked her, mumbling something about where I had bought them. When I was finished paying, I began to bag my groceries. The woman was finished in no time, and I was still fumbling through my items, trying to locate the eggs so they wouldn’t mistakenly get placed on the bottom of my cart. At that point, she uttered four words that resonate in my mind to this very day. Those words were, “Can I help you?” Can she help me? I didn’t even think twice and quickly blurted out, “No, no, that’s okay, I’m fine.” The lights dimmed in the store and all the remaining customers left, including the nice woman. And I was still standing there bagging my own groceries. Alone. “Why was it impossible for me to let her help me bag my groceries?” I thought. Why couldn’t I have simply said, “Yes”?
The reality of my life is that I spend most of my time with little people who rely on me for their every need, every day, all day long. There are short breaks when my husband gets home from work, or on week-ends when we are all together, but still– on those occasions– I am basically still taking care of everybody. I’ve kind of been programmed to do everything independent of others. The up side to this is that I feel accomplished. I feel as if I’ve done my job as a mom and a wife, if I take care of every last detail, on my own, sans help. The down side to this is that I am exhausted by the end of the day. AND, if I have my hands in all the details, I’ve not left room for the hand of the Almighty to move. While He’s purposed me to be this helper to my family, He alone is The Helper. He longs to help me. But, just like in the grocery store that night, I have trouble receiving that help. Major trouble. Oh, I can offer other people as much help as they need. I can make ten breakfast casseroles for the homebound, babysit a friend’s crying kid, even do a late night coffee run. I can help others. But when I say, “Yes, please help me,” this means I am on the receiving end of the help. Saying yes means I’m weak. Saying yes means I don’t have it all together. Saying yes means I’m not in control. Saying yes means I need— someone else. And, saying yes means I’m humble enough to receive it. Ouch. The reality is, if I can’t receive help, my heart has become proud. I am challenged to admit that I am not holding the world on my shoulders—because only He can do that. And He is the One who sees my needs—sees my lack—and sends His helpers to bear the burden of life that I too often try to carry myself.
In the scriptures, in the book of First Corinthians, a man named Paul said, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, does not boast, is not proud.” Love is not proud. To make the shift from pride to humility is all about opening up the heart and allowing the love of Almighty Father God to consume and fill all the places– even the places where pride may want sneak in and dwell. Even those places can be filled by His all consuming and great love. In Psalm 46, David reminds us that God Himself is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” He is the one reaching down His love to us, in very identifiable ways. God sent help to me that night. Help that I was too proud to receive. Who knows? The woman at the store very well could have been an angel, sent to bless me. So next time, by God’s grace, I will humble myself and take the help. With five kids, I certainly could use it.
No decries. No decrees. No desires granted. No dreams fulfilled.
We need to repent because Christ died, while we were sinners. He took our punishment, our death, our sins. He took that on Him. God put our sin on His Son so that we may know Him, “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
And now, we must repent, have a change in our mind, if you will, and put on Christ. We must put on Christ not because He is going to fix our relationships, take care of our depression, stand for black lives, give us a great business idea, make it alright between our co-workers and managers, heal that hip or shoulder that has nagged us for years, or have someone pay for our groceries in a time when we really need that $72.88 for something else.
We need to repent and put on Christ, have the mind of Christ so that we may know Him, ” the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent,” as it is written in John 17.
For far too long, we have lived off that magic prayer at some youth meeting or holiday service and believed that if we do good here and there, we were saved.
Like the lepers, we were slowly dying without ever knowing it and thought that our separation was because only God understood us but in truth, God separated us so that we would never infect others of our unrepentant sins. “You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
It is time to put first things first. Make the main things the plain things and the plain things the main things. We need to learn of God’s ways and follow Christ. Put away our dreams, our visions, our plans, our clocks, our calendars, our life coach’s strategies and “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [food, water, clothes, i.e. the basics to live] will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).