Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps

We are raised in a culture which teaches us not to show our weaknesses. We should “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps,” we are told, which means we are to act, advance, and accomplish by the application of our own efforts.

If you’ll give it just a little thought, you’ll see just how ludicrous this “bootstrap” idea really is.  No matter how hard you pull on your own bootstraps while standing in your boots, you will never be able to lift yourself up off the ground!

So how are we to get on in this life and do the things God is calling is to do, especially when the odds often seem to be stacked against us?

Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.  Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.  (Psalm 29:9)

We were never designed to be “pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps” independently and apart from God.  Our need for God did not begin in the Garden of Eden after the Fall, as many mistakenly believe.  We were created needy, and our needs are to be met only by God.  We were made by Him, in Him, and for Him; that means we are fully dependent upon Him.

Here’s some really good news: the fruit of your labor is not dependent upon you!  Your success in life does not rest squarely upon your shoulders.  The goal for every child of God is simply to be faithful and leave the fruits of our labor in the hands of the Almighty.

When you read in Scripture about the lives of some of the great saints, you see just how needy they really were.  Abraham and Sarah were old.  Moses was not an eloquent speaker and needed Aaron to be his spokesman.  Elijah was suicidal and needed to be strengthened by God.  Martha was a workaholic and needed a new perspective . . . which was provided by her sister Mary, who sat calmly at the feet of Jesus.  Peter was impulsive and ill-tempered and needed the patience of his Prince.  Timothy was timid and needed the encouragement of Paul.

We all have more needs than we might care to admit.  But instead of expending all of our energy trying to hide our needs and construct a façade to present to others, we do better to simply identify our needs and look to God, who has been and always will be our Helper!  In looking to God, we often find that He sends us helpers in the form of friends, family, and even complete strangers.

As we go about the business of life, we can easily forget just how needy we really are and how much we need God’s help each day . . . until we have gone too long looking in the wrong direction!  When we keep looking to ourselves, attempting to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, we get worn down, beat up, and burned out.  I know this resonates with you, because it resonates with me too!  God is the ultimate and only help we need, regardless of the circumstances we are facing.  He not only saves us from our sin, He saves us from ourselves!  His gracious rescue creates the “great exchange,” where we are decreasing and He is increasing in our lives.

The more we focus on the truths of the Gospel, the more these truths will renew our minds, enlarge our hearts, and bend our wills.  This is the place where we begin to embrace the truth that we simply can do nothing apart from Christ.  God wants you to look to Him and no one else for all the help you need to do all the things He has called you to do.  It is God’s grace that sustains you and God’s wisdom that overrules every challenge and trial for your ultimate good.

God is your help for a difficult relationship . . . a troubled marriage . . . a rebellious child . . . trouble on the job . . . a major health concern . . . and any loss you have encountered or will encounter in this life.  You are His, and He has promised to get you home safely.  Sure, the road is long and hard, but He has walked it before you and is walking it with you right now.  So forget about those silly bootstraps and fix your eyes on Christ!

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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