Life can be busy challenging. There is work to accomplish by the end of the week, or the day. There are co-workers to contend with, some helpful and some not so helpful. There are customers to deal with or volunteers to cajole. There are computers and other equipment that speed up our work, or break down when we need them most. There are budgets to prepare and reports to run. There are problems to solve and just the day-to-day work to do.
Then there are family commitments to attend to. Dinner needs to be made and the dishes cleaned up. Someone has to do the laundry lest we go out in wrinkled, dirty clothes. There are bills to be paid and checkbooks to balance. There are entertainment decisions to be made, and of course not everyone wants to do the same thing. There are family reunions and holiday gatherings, letters and emails that should be sent to keep out-of-town family up on our doings, and that huge list of Christmas cards. (I know those last ones are a few months away, but getting them done can be a challenge.)
On top of that are the church commitments we have made. Just getting everyone up and ready on Sunday morning for services can be a challenge. Plus all those extras we signed up to help with, like the coffee cart and the sign-up table for that upcoming seminar, or communion set up, or being on church council, or singing in the choir.
But it’s okay. I can do all of that. And I can handle it myself! Plus I can handle all of the relationship issues that come along with these responsibilities because I’m a good Christian and I always do what’s right, all by myself!
Perhaps that is true. Maybe I can handle it all myself. Maybe. But probably not. More likely, if I try to handle it all myself, I’m going to first encounter some relationship issues I can’t quite hurdle. Feelings might be hurt, often my own, because I’ve put me first. And I’m going to feel stressed, tired, exploited, and angry. I’m going to have to also deal with thoughts like these:
- Why can’t my co-worker ever do anything right?
- If I want something done right, I’ll have to do it myself.
- It’s not fair! It’s always my computer that breaks and IT is never there to fix it.
- What’s the point of all these endless reports? No one even looks at them.
- Why should I have to make dinner and do the dishes?
- Why doesn’t anyone help out around here? Do I have to do everything?
- We never watch what I want!
- I just know the family reunion is going to be bad because Aunt Ethel is going to go on and on about her health problems.
- I have to always set up the coffee cart at church and no one ever appreciates how hard it is.
- Why don’t I ever get to sing a solo for choir? Sadie is always picked for that.
And so on, and so on, the complaining and negative talk goes in our head. But I can handle it all myself!
Does this sound at all familiar? Is this striking a chord with anyone out there? If pride is causing you to try to handle it all yourself, then I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Christian life, though challenging, isn’t a go-it-alone sort of affair. Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit to be with us and in us always to help with all of these day-to-day challenges of life. God isn’t just concerned with the major catastrophic challenges in your life. He doesn’t expect you to only call on Him when you lose that job, or one of your family members dies of cancer, or your church splits over some disagreement involving scripture. He wants you to call on His Holy Spirit for wisdom and strength for each and every decision and committment in your life. He is there to help you with the relationships that permeate your life.
This morning the song “If I Stand” sung by Jars of Clay came on my iPod while I was getting ready for work. I love the first two lines of the chorus of this song:
So if I stand let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through
And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace that first brought me to You
It made me think that if I am able to stand in the face of all the challenges I face in life, it is only because of God’s promise that He will pull me through. I won’t make it through on my own, but by the power of His Holy Spirit I will. But if I don’t, if I fail in my Christian walk today, I want to fall on God’s grace so that He can lift me up again to stand on His promise.
In speaking of the end times, Jesus said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:12. We can only stand firm by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can only truly face the challenges of the Christian life if we cling to Christ Jesus. Jesus told His disciples, and us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. The thief is Satan, who is the one who tells us we can handle it ourselves. Pride was his downfall, and he would love for it to be our downfall, too. But Jesus came that we would live a full and abundant life with Him. No matter how hard we work or how good we think we are, we can’t live the full Christian life without relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us through each day, even the most mundane.
So I admit, I can’t handle it all myself. But I don’t have to. And neither do you.