Pastoral viewpoint: The grace to let others help us
A little boy sat in his sandbox one Saturday morning. He was playing with his pail and shovel as well as a number of toy cars and trucks. As he went about building roads in the soft sand, he came across a large rock at the bottom of his sandbox. He dug around the rock then pushed and shoved it until he had pried it loose. Then he tried to move it off to the side of the sandbox with the hopes of getting it up over the small wall and out of the sandbox.
But this rock was too big and heavy for the little guy and he couldn't move it any further. So he got a stick and tried to pry it out with some leverage. But each time he came close to being successful, the rock fell backwards. Eventually he went back to pushing and shoving and huffing and puffing until the rock fell on him and pinched his fingers.
The little guy began to cry probably more out of frustration than from the pinched fingers. He ran into the house to tell his father, who had been watching all of this out of the kitchen window. After wiping his son's tears, the father gently asked, "Son, why didn't you use all the strength that you had?" Between tears the little boy whimpered, "I did daddy! I pushed so hard it hurt my muscles. I used all the strength I had!" But the father corrected him, "No, you didn't son, you didn't ask me for help!"
Have you ever acted like this little boy? You press on in life with an attitude that insists, "I can do this alone! I don't need anybody else's help! I'll show you my independence!" Though this kind of rugged individualism may be good "Americanism," it is not good Christianity.
Whether we are moving rocks, raising teenagers, struggling with a marriage, dealing with unemployment, or suffering with grief, loss, or depression, God makes it clear...we were put here to help one another through life. In His letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul urges believers to "carry each other's burdens and to live out the Law of Christ." (Galatians 6:1-2) As God draws us into the community we call the Church, we are meant to be "family" and we are given the privilege to call each other "brothers" and "sisters." We are expected to help each other and not attempt to be "lone ranger" Christians.
I have always appreciated the words of playwright Oscar Wilde who wrote, "If a friend of mine gave a feast and did not invite me, I would not mind. But if a friend of mine had a sorrow and refused to allow me to share it, I would feel most bitter." And this is true of most of us too, isn't it? We are pretty good at wanting to help others, but sometimes we are not very good at letting others step in to help us! We let our pride get the best of us and we end up hurting not only ourselves, but others too! We neglect one of God's great gifts when we don't allow fellow Christian brothers and sisters to help us "move the rocks" in our lives.
One of the newer songs we sing out of the latest Lutheran hymnal asks, "won't you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you, pray that I may have the grace to, let you be my servant, too!" When the responsibilities, cares and concerns of life begin to bear down upon us, may God give us the wisdom, grace, and common sense to invite others to help us carry our burdens. Who knows, we may even come to see the "the hands, feet and heart of Christ" through the efforts of others!