Needing the Lord

There are times when a person may not wish to admit the need to seek out help. It may be due to a sense of self pride. The barrier may be a feeling of shame or inadequacy. A person may not want to be considered a burden on someone else. Whatever the cause, the person does not reach out and admit to anyone their need for help. For anyone facing such a time, this song by Matt Maher reminds us that there is freedom found when we reach out to the Lord.

Our Lord stands always at the ready to assist each one of us. There is no judgment or shaming coming from the Lord. We find rest, support, love and hope in the Lord.

To Give or To Teach

Read Acts 3:1-10

There is a very old adage which has a much disputed origin. The adage is: “Give a man fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The concept of alleviating poverty by providing a means of self-sufficiency is found throughout history. Chinese philosophers, novelists, newspapers and charity workers have all been credited with some aspects of this adage. According to quoteinvestigator.com, Anne Isabella Thackery Ritchie deserves to be credited with the origin. Trying to be of service to someone in need is admirable. Choosing the best way to meet that need can be the biggest challenge. This adage causes us to evaluate the greatest action to choose with the opportunity to have longevity.

In the passage from Acts, we see Peter and John called upon to meet the needs of a man who was unable to walk so he sat at the temple gate begging every day. The man needed money in order to purchase necessities on which he could survive. Peter saw an opportunity to provide something which would be life changing, not merely life sustaining. Peter showed the man how to walk and stand.

We, like Peter, can provide a long-term change for people. The easy route when we are called upon to assist someone is to provide for the immediate need. This can be accomplished in the quickest amount of time and create the least amount of cost to us. However, we truly can make a meaningful difference if we invest our time in gaining an understanding of the source of the need. With this understanding, we then are able to provide whatever is necessary to reduce or eliminate the source of the immediate need. This will create a stronger possibility of the need not occurring again.

Let us follow Ritchie’s adage and Peter’s example.

Being Known

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:1-18 (NIV)

For eleven seasons from 1982 until 1993, the familiar theme song from the sitcom Cheers played in many homes where the television was tuned to NBC. This theme song captured the desire of almost every human, “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.” Humans are created with a desire to be known. The sitcom demonstrated this desire. We became close to the characters as they became close to one another. As they experienced challenges, heartbreaks, triumphs and the ebb and flow of relationships, we experienced along with them because we could easily relate. Sam, Coach, Diane, Cliff, Norm, Carla, Lilith, Frazier, Woody and Rebecca each had a part of our life experience in them. We laughed and cried with them because we felt they knew us as much as we knew them.

The psalmist writes about being known in Psalm 139. The words recall for us the promise that God fully knows each and every one of us. God knows where we are and what we are doing at all times. We were known by the Lord even before being given life. Nothing about us is ever hidden from our Creator. We are completely known.

The idea of being so completely and intimately known can be comforting and unnerving at the same time. The comfort comes from a deep need being met. The unnerving aspect is that not only our good parts but our flawed and troublesome parts are fully exposed. There is no place or means of being hidden from God. Yet even while this is true, we are still loved fully by the Lord. The Almighty knows as by name and the welcome never ends. “(God) is always glad you came.”

No Worries

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Luke 12:22-31 (NIV)

In the late 1980s, reggae singer Bobby McFerrin released a song entitled, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The tune is simple and the rhythms are energetic. The lyrics give a multitude of life situations which can cause stress and worry. One phrase reminds the listener that when we worry our troubles double. The solution is contained in a repetitive chorus of “don’t worry, be happy.” It is easy for the listener to start singing along unintentionally. A smile seems to naturally come across your face.

From Luke’s Gospel, we have Jesus lecturing his disciples to not worry. Jesus points out that the act of worrying adds nothing to a person’s life. He provides examples from nature to show that God provides all the true needs of creation. He concludes by telling his disciples to seek God’s kingdom because in so doing, a person will receive all which is needed.

This passage is as simple and straightforward as Bobby McFerrin’s song. The bump in the road is putting this advice into action. There is a natural sense of worry innate in all of us. There are some important steps to help us manage our natural worries.

First we must determine if we are dealing with a want or a need. There are a lot of wants which we have in our lives. A need is something which is necessary for our survival. An example may be the need for shelter. The want in this situation might be a 5500-square foot house with five bathrooms, an outdoor kitchen and a three stall garage.

Second, keep things in perspective. An expression which has gained some ground in society recently is, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” This saying reminds us of the importance of perspective. Is what is causing you to worry that important or life-altering enough to cause you to expend a large amount of time, energy, sleep and mental health? Can you even do anything about the situation? If not, then stop worrying.

Third step is trusting. Jesus would remind us that we need to trust that our God is big enough to sort everything out and provide all which we truly need. Do you have enough trust that God is big enough? Are you able to believe that God will always provide your needs if not always your wants?

Need Help

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:46-52 (NIV)

Every person has times in their lives when they are in the need of help. Barriers to receiving assistance can exist for a variety of reasons. A barrier which presents itself is the reluctance on the part of the individual to reach out and request help. Pride or fear of being turned away could be the cause. Another barrier may be the interference of others who attempt to block necessary access. Socio-economic situations, language differences, or cultural taboos can also block the path to transforming help. Whenever assistance is prevented, the individual can feel abandoned, alone, and hopeless. All of us are charged by the Lord to work for the reduction of barriers to assistance. Until this change is realized, individuals will have to persistently work to overcome the barriers on their own.

Today we read about a blind man who experienced barriers as he attempts to get help from the Lord. Since this lack of eyesight prevented him from working to support himself, he was forced to sit along a roadside and beg travelers to supply his basic needs. He encounters a socio-economic barrier and would have been viewed as a much lesser person. When he hears that Jesus is walking on his road, he begins to seek help from Jesus by shouting. Bartimaeus clearly does not allow pride to be a barrier. Those around him though attempt to silence him and create another barrier due to cultural norms and perception of his status socially. The man is undeterred and only increases his plea for access. Jesus hears the man, calls him forward and gives him the help for which he asks. While Bartimaeus receives physical healing, Jesus’s actions go much further because they demonstrate a giving of sight to those observing as well.

Many times we are blind. Our blindness may not be a physical impairment but a much deeper one. We can physically see someone in need of assistance but are blind to the barriers around them in obtaining that assistance, some which we may help to create. As individuals, we may be the ones in need of assistance but we refuse to make the request. Our needs may be spiritual in nature. We may need to have our sight restored so we can see Jesus and the love which he offers. Like Bartimaeus, we sit beside the road in need of crying out to the Lord.

This passage challenges us in two ways. The first is to see the Bartimaeus of our lives and not attempt to silence them but assist in breaking down any barriers. The second is realizing we may be Bartimaeus and must cry out to the Lord for the sight, or whatever else, we so desperately need. Jesus does not disappoint.