Real Mission: I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends
"Can I help you with that?" He asked kindly as I hoisted the folding table half my weight into the back of my SUV.
"Oh, no, I got it." I replied, as I embarrassingly missed the lip of the car and jammed by finger on the locking mechanism of my trunk.
"Looks like you've got this under control." He responded apocryphally as I questioned myself intently, "Do I really 'got this?".
Asking for help has never been one of my strong suits. Being a strong independent person has been ingrained in me since I was a small child. Independent play, independent school assignments, individualized achievements. They are all a part of the American way. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and put your back into it. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Strong. That’s how you describe someone who can do it all on their own, right? That’s what I always heard. But, then, I read the Bible, and found myself questioning what strength really is, and where it comes from.
Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ -2 Corinthians 12:8-9a
The Bible is filled with strong people who leaned on God and leaned into the work of the Holy Spirit not merely as resilient individuals, but as communities. Even Jesus himself did not act alone in his ministry. “Follow me,” he said to his companions along the way. Together they shared the Good News of the world to come. Together they traveled, and healed, and preached, and fished for people. So, I ask myself, “If Jesus didn’t do it all on his own, why in the world would I think I should?"
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? -1 Corinthians 1:20
We continue to consume the narrative that independence equals strength and asking for help is a sign of weakness. But if that’s true, then why would Jesus have asked his friends to stay awake and pray with him on the night before he died? Couldn’t he do that all on his own?
The donkey he rode to Jerusalem was borrowed; a little boy gave the bread that fed the 5,000; Simon carried His cross; angels attended to him; and when he was thirsty, he asked the woman at the well to draw from the depths and give him something to drink. Jesus didn’t do it all on his own. So why should we?
Reconciling all people with God and one another, the Mission of the Church, does not happen by the self-less acts of a few committed individuals. It happens through the inextricably connected community of believers who are foolish enough to believe that they really can make a difference in this world; not alone, but together.
For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. -1 Corinthians 1:25
Why lift a heavy load on your own when your neighbor is standing right there ready to bear that burden alongside you? Why go it alone when a whole community lies in wait for health and restoration that can only be found in compassionate communal endeavors? Why empty your cup when a cruet of care is ready to fill you up?
Doing it all on your own is not strong, it’s sad. We were meant for each other. You for me, and I for you. Together. Utterly dependent on God. Wise enough to admit that our common life depends upon one another’s toils and our collective joy is accomplished in a few simple words, “Yeah, you can help me with that."
I am still learning how say these words. It takes a great deal of effort to get these words to come out of my mouth. I know deep down that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; but receiving God’s grace isn’t the easiest thing to do. Relinquishing control and surrendering to the reality that most of life is just chance, is a slippery certainty to hold onto. And asking for help may be the way of Christ, but it certainly is not the way of the world I live in.
I am still learning how to say these words, and I’m praying even more that I’ll actually believe them when I do say them. I’m still figuring out how to let my neighbor love me. I’m still learning how to accept God’s grace. Maybe, my friend, you are too?
Tags: Real Mission Blog