Posts Tagged ‘Romans 8:26-27’

plastic-window-insulationYe gotta like it when innocuous little moments shine a light on something big in your life. That  happened one winter day when my father-in-law helped me install a plastic insulation barrier on a wind-blasted bedroom window.

We were applying two-sided tape to the window frame—it holds the barrier in place—when Fred complained that every time he unrolled the tape, it would wind itself up again.

I heard his words and instantly realized: this is a metaphor for my life. So often I launch self-improvement projects to:

  • listen better;
  • remember more (just ask my wife about my horrible memory for anything recent);
  • become more aware of when I’m being petty;
  • stop giving with my hand out to receive thanks/praise and;
  • value family relationships more (gee, Frank, would the occasional phone call to your brothers kill you?)

Guess what happens to those initiatives? Like the two-sided insulation barrier tape, every time I unwind them, they spool back up and I have to start over.

I sense this happens with a lot of people. We’re taught to do everything ourselves because only incompetent people ask for help. And we keep on believing this, even though our failed projects stare us in the face like a blinding spotlight.

When I consider the spooled-up tape of my initiatives, the conclusion is obvious: I can’t improve myself alone, no matter what any self-help book says. I don’t believe any of us can. We’re just too burdened with leftover childhood issues, with relationships that leave us burning with anger or disappointment, with unbreakable bad habits, and with emotionally crippling betrayals.

Does it make sense to write that we need help from someone more powerful; someone who’s not battling emotional issues; someone who always, ALWAYS has time for us, no matter how annoying or frustrating we can be?

I found something written by an ancient follower of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) that refers to this help: “Jesus has been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”

For me, I simply ask for that assistance through prayer. And if you don’t feel capable or ready to pray, one of Jesus’s earliest followers talks about that, too: “If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. God’s spirit does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

After praying, things can start to happen. It might be something supernatural—suddenly, your desire to listen better is actually fulfilled. Or it might be God working through a colleague or relative who has surprisingly sage words of advice, or makes an unexpected commitment to hold you accountable.

I don’t have to pray about the insulation barrier; Fred and I got it nicely installed. But all my other, more important improvement projects? That’s another matter….

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