I have felt for many years that our own worst enemy is our own competence. Yes, you heard that right, our own competence.
For each area we grow more competent in, we drift away from relying on God’s guiding hand.
On page 45 of the Priscilla Shirer’s Elijah bible study book, Priscilla writes: God’s people essentially rejected Yahweh as their primary source of provision…. They began to believe that their ability to survive rested squarely in Baal’s hands…. Each month, the sky withheld rain was an unmitigated personal strike against the authority of Baal to control nature. (A selection of sentences from that page.)
As I read this page, I felt the Holy Spirit substitute some of her words for me, which confirmed what I had known for years.
God’s people essentially rejected Yahweh as their primary source of provision…. They began to believe that their ability to survive rested squarely in their own hands…. Each month the sky withheld rain was an unmitigated personal strike against the authority of their own ability to control their environment.
We can get pretty cocky in a study that talks about serving other gods like Baal. We know that we do not bow down to a graven image. We speak the words of allegiance to Yahweh. But when put in this new light, it somehow seems different.
We may all get up and spend that precious time with God and pray over the small box of things we cannot control. The illness of a loved one, the salvation of another. The bill that is coming due that seems larger than our savings or weekly income.
Then, with our own competence and ability, we get up and move forward in our day. We are competent to make breakfast, get dressed, drive a car to work, do our job at work, etc. And with each successive day, we grow more able.
We get better at time management. We learn more skills to do our job better. We get promoted. And so forth. By the time we lay our head down at night, our God given ability has carried us through the day. We feel a day well done with all the we have accomplished. And in our slight smugness, we are thankful to God for coming alongside our journey that day, to watch us succeed at what He has given us to do.
For those of you who know me, you know my bag of abilities is great. That is difficult for me to say, because humility tugs in the opposite direction. I’ve never withdrawn from a new challenge to learn and thus grow.
But, over the last several years, God has led me through a wilderness of drought where I was no longer in control of my environment. I had the skills to obtain wealth and did much of that through the years.
I can create a business at the drop of a hat and tell you exactly how to run and market it to succeed. I can tell you how to structure it and who and when to hire, and how to budget and plan for it to grow. I can tell you how to build your website and create the correct SEO strategies. And it will work - for you.
In this drought season, though, it stopped working for me. No matter what skills I pulled out of my bag of God given tricks, I could not control my destiny. The skills, talents, and abilities no longer produced for me the way they always had. God had me in a place of complete dependency on Him, all day, every day, for at least the last 7 years. The abilities I had previously relied on, yes probably even unconsciously worshiped, no longer bore fruit.
There is much more to that story, but it is not the focus of my point here, however it was necessary to bring this teaching of Elijah closer to home. As I was pondering all of this, God reminded me of a time in my life from decades ago.
When my middle child, who was my only daughter, was 5, and I was getting her ready to start kindergarten, the main issue I had was getting her to let me teach her to tie her shoes. I kept wanting to show her how, but she kept refusing to let me show her.
Every time she would pull away in defiance and tell me, “I do it myself!”
Finally, the evening before the first day of school, I told her that if she couldn’t tie her shoes, she could not go to school the next day. She never said a word. She just reached down and tied both of her shoes. I was gobsmacked.
She had had the ability to tie her own shoes, for how long? When had she learned? Since she had the ability to tie them, then why didn’t she? Why did she continually walk around with untied shoes until I stopped her and squatted down and tied them for her?
Then I saw it. Rather than tie her own shoes with her own ability, she would rather have that small intimate moment with me, where I leaned in close to her and tied them for her.
I am now challenged to stop tying all my own shoes, but rather asking Father to lean in and tie them for me. In that way, I can experience a close, intimate action of leaning on my Father rather than my own ability. Let me challenge you to do the same.
Throughout the day, let’s stop amid our impressive abilities and lean on Father. It may surprise us when a new idea or a new skill emerges lovingly in that moment. Maybe a new way of doing something old. Or may just a lovingly intimate touch from our Father.
I dare say that if we learn this new rhythm of living, then our lives will truly come to life vividly with an explosion of new wonder and joy that we have yet to realize.
I want to encourage you to leave me any comments below. They are so encouraging and motivating to me.
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Let me ruffle some more feathers here (I seem to be so good at it). I take issue with the little ‘ask Jesus into your heart’ prayers we tack on to the end of our religious box sessions. That does not lead to being born again. At best, it may allow those saying it to realize that there is a need in their life to allow Jesus to help them change and by saying that prayer sincerely they are acknowledging that something in their life needs to change and they give that to Jesus, which is amazing. But...