Friday, June 1, 2018

Dangling close to the end

You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (Matthew 5:3)


The idea of "being at the end of our ropes" as a blessed or happy place just doesn't compute for me! In fact, I'd probably argue that it is both frustrating and discouraging to be at a place that makes anyone feel so helpless and without hope. I might even describe the emotional state of such a place as pretty mixed up (kind of a muddle of emotions) and in a whirlwind of internal storms (because where emotions are not 'at rest', there is always a flood of more of those hormone that keep the body at high alert). How on earth does someone have a mindset of "being blessed" in the midst of that kind of unrest? 

We aren't told outright in this passage, but we get a definite hint as to how Jesus gets an inroad into our lives. It is at the place where we come to the end of our ability, the end of our striving - the end of our rope - that he enters. With less of us in the way, there is more room for God and his rule - that is the recipe for being blessed (truly happy). In other words, when we step out of the way, God takes over. It is that "let go, and let God" thing all over again. No matter the circumstance - God is more powerful to work out the details that we are in our own power or strength. Our wisdom falls short every time - we need God's wisdom in order to realize the blessing of the circumstance. We might get a gist of the details, but trust me on this one - none of us knows the details like he does!

So, how do we get to this place were it is "less of me" and "more of God"? A little confession might help here - every time I want to give more place to God in my own life, I find myself resisting. Why? Plainly put, it is because "I" wants to be in control. There is something fearful about "giving control" to anyone else in our lives - sometimes, we even feel this way about giving control to God. He is the one who made us, fashioning us as uniquely as he did, giving each of us the capacity to both receive and understand him. Yet, we resist him. It is kind of silly actually, but we push away from the very thing that will actually help us know and walk in peace!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus holds everything together by what he says. His words are powerful - they are both creative and sustaining. At the point of our need, he speaks into our lives - bringing quietness where there has been chaos, order where there has been mess, and liberty where there has been bondage. In order for those words to take root, "I" must step out of the way. If we are only listening to the voice of "I" and not the voice of the "I am", we are not at the end of our rope - we are dangling dangerously close to hanging ourselves, though.

God allows us enough rope that we will struggle a little with our own self-control, but thank goodness it is not enough rope to hang ourselves. Why? God doesn't want "puppets" - he wants sincerely committed and passionate children. He wants us to be assured beyond a shadow of a doubt that his ways are best and his plans are for our good. Enough rope, but just enough. Letting go is never easy. In fact, it is pretty terrifying to let go of what we have trusted in, believed to be right for the circumstances we are struggling with, etc. We struggle because it is a battle of the wills - our will against God's.

The next time you feel like you are "at the end of your rope", recall these words of Jesus. Then, in that split second, let go of that rope - trust him - he is right there at the end of that rope. His arms await you just as you let go - they aren't going to pull you away from the rope, but they will catch you once you let go. You won't regret falling into the arms of Jesus. Letting go may be the toughest decision of your life, but it is also the most rewarding. With less of us in control, there is more room for God to enter into life's turmoil like only he can do. There, we find blessing beyond measure! Just sayin!