If you judge me using The American Dream as a standard, I am a total failure. We live in this society where “the self-made man” is glorified and aggrandized, while anyone who attains to less is condescended to and looked down upon. We pride ourselves on climbing the ladder and becoming the biggest and best that we can possibly be. And as we grow another year older and another year older, we mourn the accomplishments we haven’t made – “I’m forty and don’t have that corner office yet!” And rarely do we realize that our definition of success is skewed; and that whatever we have managed to accomplish wasn’t our accomplishment anyway.
The myth of “the self-made” man says, “I did it my way.” (Thanks, Frank Sinatra, for the line.) And the emphasis is on “I.” The problem is that “I” can’t do any of it myself. The only thing I can do is choose whether or not I’m going to be a conduit for the energy (talents, skills, gifts) that God allows to flow through me and into the world. And if I allow Him, that energy that God pours through me (the talents, skills, and gifts) are all merely demonstrations of His love. Whether I sing, write, build an airplane, perform surgery, or scrub a toilet, those energies are all God-given, Christ-enabled demonstrations of God’s love flowing through me. Yet, how often do we lap up the praise we’re given, believe our own press, and believe that we have accomplished something?
Ephesians 2:4-8 (MSG) says, “Instead, immense in mercy, and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in the highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.”
Rewind! “He did this all on his own, with no help from us!”
And read that last line again: “All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.”
In other words, He’s the one with the plan and the power. And we only get to choose whether or not we will all Him to flow through us, into the world.
Bob Sorge says, “The LORD wanted to break Peter of his self-reliance so that he would learn to depend on God for everything. He came to realize that he couldn’t even love without Christ’s help. Our love is perfected, not when we become strong in love, but when we become so weak that we lean on the LORD for His love to empower us.”
It brings me back to John 15 again, where I’m reminded that all of this labor and striving I do is in vain, because really, my only task is to hold onto Him (“abide in the vine”). Why do I try so hard when all I really have to do is rest in Him?
Sorge says, “He’s wondering, ‘Will you let Me quiet you with My love?’ He wants to bring us to the place where nothing else really matters, just as long as we know He loves us.”
That’s a place I want to be.
This post is part of a weekly discussion on Bob Sorge’s book, “The Fire of Delayed Answers.” You don’t have to read the book to weigh in on the discussion! Feel free to comment below. But if you have written a response to this week’s chapter, please link it up at the widget (also below). Then, go visit my co-facilitator and friend, Jason Stasyszen, at Connecting to Impact.