I read this devotion from one of my daily reads and it was like the Holy Spirit was pin-pointing all of the ickiness in my heart. It was just what I needed to take it.
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
And rely on horses,
And trust in chariots because they are many,
And in horsemen because they are very strong.
But do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
nor seek the Lord.
Isaiah 31:1 (NAS)
I had a hostess committee appointed to help me but I wanted to do it all by myself (because then I would be sure it was done right!). Do what? Prepare the Wednesday night family supper for forty or fifty people. I didn't point out to anyone that I thought it was a "one woman" job. "This is a delicious casserole!" Delicious! I did it and I loved that I did it!
Then we had a Church-wide festival with games, performers, finger foods, and everything else included. People offered to help me, but "I'm really getting along just fine. Thanks. I'll call you if I need help." Another "one-woman" job carried off successfully. Lots of praise. Lots of "how in the world did you get this all together by yourself?" Performance. It was in my blood. You could say it was my life. I lived to perform because I thrived on praise and good performance meant a lot of praise!
You perform all day - every day. There are two ways that you can do this, only two. You can depend on yourself, your wisdom, your talents, your ability, your intelligence, or you can trust Christ to live through you, to perform through you. [Romans 15:18]
If you choose to do it all by yourself, you can fail and have no one to blame but yourself - dust yourself off, get yourself up, and try all over again, and again, and again. Any failure is devastating. Every failure hurts! I know. And it takes a lot of successful performances to erase one tiny failure. So we just try harder so we never fail again! Success!
Oh, you can succeed, but it doesn't matter how successful you are, or how well known you are for your stellar performance, or how many righteous acts you have done. The Bible tells us explicitly what God thinks about our independence, our righteous acts. They are all like filthy rags. They are useless. They are dirty. They smell bad. [Isaiah 64:6b]
A person with performance patterns like mine is admired. She's appointed or volunteers for a lot of committees and asked to do some important jobs. Her friends utter in amazement, "Is there anything you can't do?"
But you see, don't you? Sheer willpower, energized by the need for acceptance from others and being able to accept myself, is driven by super-HUMAN strength, not SUPER-NATURAL strength. Super-natural strength comes from God. Super-human strength comes from a human who has mastered his strength. Performing. Performing well. My intelligence. My abilities. My way.Habakkuk 1:11 says: They will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god. "Guilty of what, please tell me?" Guilty of denying the presence and the power of God within me and depending instead on my strength.
(That meddling Habakkuk! "Dear, dear Praise Seeker, your strength is your God." He's the one who pointed it out to me. I guess he was the only one who dared tell me I was NOT doing it right!)
Why is God like that? Can we not do things by ourselves? Let me draw an analogy. When you have a child the main thing that child must know and respect is that you are his authority. You know what he should do and should not do. You are smarter that he is. You've "been around the block" a lot of times. As long as he recognizes you as his authority figure things are going to be just "peachy keen." Well, God is our authority figure. We are His children. He knows, unequivocally, what is best for us. Why? He is infinite! He sees forever into our past and our future. He knows exactly where we will be this hour, this moment, this second twelve years from now. [Psalm 139:16]
Dare we confront this infinite God and say, "But I want to do it my way. I really think my plan is better"? [Job 9:12] What audacity. He knows. We do not. And He knows that when we take over we can get into real trouble. So He says, "Please let Me do it all for you. I know precisely what should be done."
It is so hard for us to give someone else control. Even when that Someone has proven His love, His wisdom, His power over and over again. [Ephesians 3:17-19]
Well, here we go again. I keep hanging on for dear life! To what? And why? To my bag of "stuff" and all that is in it thinking MY way is the best way.