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No one stands alone

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. (Philippians 3:12-14)

I am NOT someone who has a it all together with a "complete package" as it comes to talents, treasures, looks, or ability. We might like to give a good impression of having it "all together", but in reality, it takes a whole lot of duct tape and bailing wire to keep it that way! It takes a whole lot of work and emotional effort to live that way. In fact, I had decided a long time ago the "all together" / "complete package" just didn't "fit" who I wanted to be in this life. It took a while to get to the point of not being afraid to let others know where my edges were a little frayed and my hems not at all even! In my willingness to "get real" with others, there has been a liberty like no other. The ability to be real with others only came when I realized others weren't "spurred on" in this race toward Christ by the "perfect package" they saw in me. In fact, the perfect package I portrayed (play-acting, really) kind of intimidated them! It overwhelmed them - almost making them cower away in fear because the "perfect package" piece seemed just too hard to actually achieve.

More than enough time and had gone into "appearing" one way and "acting" another. It no longer matters that I be the "complete package" because I realize we are all in this together as 'incomplete packages' - no one really standing out as the "subject-matter-expert" here. We all require someone to reach out and to draw us along at times. None of us is above tiring. None is above quitting. When we feel this way, we need the hand of another to pull us on and to be the voice of encouragement we need to hear. What brought me to this point in life? I think I recognized I actually needed what others offered, but they wouldn't offer because I was so unapproachable. As long as I remained as a "perfect package", no one even wanted to approach me, much less really be an encouragement in my life! What I had to realize is that we all have similarities in this walk - we all need a little hand holding now and again! Christ reaches out to us through another, spurring us on. Some might struggle with this whole "hand holding" idea, but in reality, we need it more than we realize.

Paul goes on to tell us we need to keep focused. Focus is not only a personal thing, but it is also a community thing. We often don't see what is right in front of us. My pastor always said: "The eye cannot see the eye". In other words, we need others to see the splinter in our eye! Focus is impacted by the splinter we cannot see around! When we want refined focus - we need others to help us refine it. God gave us these individuals so we might get perspective through a different set of eyes. If you don't realize the benefit of a different set of eyes on a circumstance, consider the last time you needed assistance to get the most out of your tax return, or to find the one loose wire under the hood of your car that kept it from running right. I could have read all kinds of self-help books until I finally figured it out on my own, but the tax accountant knows more of the law around the tax code than I could ever hope to learn through one of the self-directed manuals. The mechanic actually knows what wires make my car do the crazy things cars do. I need them to give me perspective at times. You and I are no different in this need. The differing vantage point of another is often the one vantage point we don't consider for ourselves when faced with the challenges in our character, choices, or circumstances.

All God ever asks of us is to get up and start running. He takes care of the rest. He beckons us onward. He prepares the path. We will find we need the encouragement of a few "coaches" along the way. Even the best prepared athlete did not get their on their own. They needed the benefit of others showing them how it is done. Don't be afraid to "get real" with another. Being a little too "perfect" in your "package" is not going to endear you to anyone. Being willing to be "real" is what connects you to another. Just sayin!

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