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Have you seen those cartoons where the guy is riding his bicycle up a very steep hill? He’s struggling, doing his best but running out of steam. Then a vehicle comes by him headed in the same direction and the man grabs onto the back of it and the rest of the ride up the hill is easier.
In my life, there have been many occasions where I’ve heard people say that “religion” in general or following Christ in particular is for weak people. Those who can’t make it on their own and need a crutch.
Recently I injured my knee. At first I could barely walk on it. Then the doctor suggested crutches. I winced, remembering the many weeks I’d spent on them when I had hip surgery several years ago. I finally gave in and pulled out the crutches. Suddenly I had much more freedom to move about. It didn’t hurt to walk with the crutches. I needed them and they served a purpose. Why do we feel resentment about having a problem and needing help to deal with it? Why do we see that as some kind of weakness? Don’t we all have things we would do better if we had a little assistance?
Back to the man on the bicycle. He may have made it up the hill on his own. No doubt having to walk his bike for part of the journey. But his decision to grasp on to help that presented itself wasn’t a sign of weakness to me. It was a sign of him having a healthy perspective of his own limitations. He let go of his pride and grasped a better solution. And just because he did so doesn’t mean he’s coasting or being lazy. As you can imagine, if he let go of the handle bars and expected a completely free ride, he would have ended up in the ditch needing a few bandages.
Following Christ doesn’t mean surrendering your responsibility. He expects you to cooperate with His plan. He is there to be everything you need but he also wants you to follow through with the things He tells you to do. The scriptures are full of examples where man came to the end of himself and stretched out his hand to God. God took his hand and led him forward to live and serve for the rest of his days.
Perhaps you’ve seen that poem that talks about the footprints in the sand and ends with one set of footprints where Jesus is now carrying you. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes we have completely collapsed and God picks us up and carries us. But other times, I think God chooses instead to walk alongside us and let us lean on His strength. He says, “I’m here with you, lean on me.”
We still have a responsibility to keep holding on and to keep moving forward. Just like my crutches. They give me the freedom to keep moving even when all the parts aren’t working right on their own. It takes letting go of pride and latching on to the greatest source of help around. A loving Father who wants to see you at the top of that hill.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)