Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

6.25.2010

Self-Digging-Deeper




When I was 6 or 7, my dad was putting up a fence. For some reason, I was fascinated by the process of digging the post holes and couldn’t stop watching him slice the ground with the shovel, toss the dirt, slice, and then toss again as the hole crept down through the ground. I begged over and over,“Papa, let me try!” as beautiful, dark mounds of dirt flew out of the hole. Finally, he stood away from the hole and held out the muddy shovel. I eagerly gripped the wooden handle, which was taller than me, and proudly dug out my tablespoon of dirt. After only a few minutes of this, Mama called Papa into the front yard while I happily continued chipping away at the hole. Suddenly, though, I slipped, and the heavy, unwieldy shovel flew out of my hands, shaving the skin off the side of my leg as we both tumbled into the object of my delight—the fencepost hole. I tried to get out—I really did—but I could not. I was officially a six year old stuck in a hole with a bloody leg, and any squirming I did only made my leg hurt all the more. So I did the only natural thing a stuck six year old could do: I lifted my voice and screamed bloody murder! Papa came running from the front, pulled out the shovel, lifted me up out of the hole, and wiped away my lovely mess of tears, blood, and mud. For the rest of the day, I limped around, proudly showing off my battle wound. You would almost think that my six-year old self had solemnly penned Ecclesiastes 10:8a, so fitting is the warning “He who digs a pit will fall into it”!


That childhood memory has always been vivid in my mind, but it was only a short while ago that I realized that at 19, I still do the same thing. I still dig myself into a hole, and I still try desperately to get myself out. I wiggle and squirm and complain and resolve and promise myself never to do it again…and I’m still stuck. I would be the first to say that the concept of “self-help” doesn’t work, and yet I still am so determined sometimes to allow my sinful mind to diagnose my sinful heart and offer treatment for my sinful actions. And it’s about then that I get fed up with the circle of sin.


Ben Franklin (a self-avowed non-Christian) detailed a plan he made to get himself out of the hole of sin in his autobiography. It's not unlike the improvement programs many advocate today. He chose thirteen moral virtues as the most necessary and kept a little book in which he would record his progress in this course towards moral perfection as he focused on one virtue the first week, added another one the next week, and so on. He wrote, “I wished to live without committing any fault at any time….As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. While my care was employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was someimes too strong for reason….I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish [as I went through my course]….I added Humility to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word. I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it.”


It doesn’t work. We are sinful beings, as helpless in our sin as I was in my hole. But still, this self-help method of dealing with sins, habits, and problems is so appealing because it caters to our human pride. What person wouldn’t want to be able to dig himself out of the hole rather than wait for someone else to come see the predicament? What person wouldn’t want to wake up one morning and decide, “I’m not going to waste any more time on the internet” or “I’m not going to finish off that gallon of ice cream” or “I’m not going to share that nugget of gossip on that person with anyone”! What person would want to say, "On my own, victory over my sin is impossible"?


If you are a Christian, you have the responsibility to discipline yourself to do right, to obey Christ, and to accept His help out of your holes of sin that you dig for yourself--Christ's power does not negate your responsibility. I Thessalonians 4:7-8 says, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” God wants to lift us out of our holes—we can choose to wallow in them, getting more fossilized in our sin every second or we can obey God’s call in God’s strength.


Our hearts cry along with Paul, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice….I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good….O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin….The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 7:19, 21, 24, 25, 8:2)”


God helps those who help themselves.” This would be bad news for those who are stuck in the fence-post holes of sin—bruised, bloody, and exhausted—utterly unable to help themselves. Thank goodness, then, that it is not true and that God helps the helpless who require His strength to obey! Be honest—what have you been doing in your own strength lately? Have you never given your life to Christ, instead pushing God away while you dig yourself deeper in your hole? Or are you a Christian, declaring aversion to self-help but still waking up every morning and struggling with that sin (you know what it is!) on your own? I have a suggestion: throw that self-help book over the top of your hole and cry for help. It won't be long before your blood and mud and tears are wiped away, too.




10 comments:

  1. I am so thankful for the grace of God. Thank you for sharing

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  2. Lovely post! And I must say that often, we are able to get out of our holes because of friends, or other people in our lives that God has sent to aid us.

    P.S: I am a Muslim, but I love the way you are tuned in to God.

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  3. I really like this journal. Very nice. I never considered posting my Bible studies here. Hmm...

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  4. Wonderful insight on self-reflection and being truthful.

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  5. Tina--Indeed! Where would we be without His grace? Lost for sure!
    MK--Thanks for your encouragement. I am glad that my love for my Lord comes across!
    T. James-Moss--Thanks! I post a lot about what I have been learning lately, either through my Bible reading, or situations, or books I have been reading. I love sharing what God has been teaching me!
    Debbie-Lynne--Oh, you're so sweet! (-: Thanks for reading!
    Shepherd's Ewe--Thanks for your comment! Yes, being truthful about the holes we have gotten ourselves into is a huge part of it, and I am definitely still learning!

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  6. Not a leaf will fall without His permission. All your actions say self help or otherwise are his will. Submit yourself to His will and derive pleasure.

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  7. It's good to know we are forgiven. There is no way out of sin. Rom 7 We will always do the things we don't want to do. Forgiveness cleanses us.

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  8. ugh-- this is so true of me. i constantly find myself trying to make myself more worthy of God 9as if i ever could...) and it always ends in disappointment. UNTIL I remember that He is a God of grace and forgiveness. A God that purified and restored me far beyond what icould ever do on my own. what a mighty God we serve!

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  9. Amazing! Thanks for sharing this. If only we can do away with SIN and retrace our steps to our first Love, Never to go back to our sin...
    His Grace is so sufficient for us!

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