The idea for this post came from something I saw on social media. It was a photo of the actor Jason Mamoa hugging a fan. Jason Mamoa is a big guy at 6’4” and plays the superhero Aquaman. He has lots of muscles. The post was from the fan who explained that he was hugging her because she could not stand on her own. He offered to hold her for the photo so her wheelchair wouldn’t be in the picture. She said to him, "Thanks, but I am kind of heavy." He responded, "That’s okay. I am kind of strong."
Isn’t that beautiful! She worried about being too much for him, and he allayed her fears.
That story reminded me of God. Sometimes we, like the Jason Mamoa fan, think we are too much for God. We don’t lean on His strength. We sometimes need to be reminded that God is not just kind of strong. He is the ultimate Strongman.
So let’s look at times that we resist leaning on God and His strength.
One of the most common areas is in our work. We each have work we do every day. It could be a paying job, a volunteer position, work at home, or ministry work. I write. I am working on my second book and I write podcasts and blogs, retreats and classes that I lead at church. So I write a lot. Too often I forget to pray before I begin. I should offer up my work before beginning and pray for wisdom, and give thanks when finished. I usually remember to give thanks when I finish because it’s then that I realize how much grace I received while writing. When I don’t pray beforehand, it’s kind of like saying, "It’s okay, God. I’ve got this. I don’t need your help." Lucky for me, He helps even when I don’t ask. I have to remind myself to pray first, to ask Him what I should be writing, to give me the words. So when I don’t do that, it’s like saying, “Thanks God, but it’s a lot of writing.” And God responds, “It’s okay. I’m a pretty good writer.”
A second area that we might not bring to God is our burdens, which is kind of crazy because Jesus is the one who will help us carry those burdens. He WANTS to help us carry our burdens. So why do we resist? Why don’t we bring our burdens and lay them at His feet? Maybe we think they aren’t serious enough – surely others have greater burdens than I have. Or maybe I don’t believe how great a God I have. I think He only cares about the big stuff and the important people, but not about me and my little life. That’s actually a lie of the devil. We know because the Bible says God knows the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12:7). So when we say, "I don’t want to bother you with this burden." Jesus responds, “That’s okay. I’m kind of strong. I can handle it.”
God also wants us to trust Him with our dreams and hopes. I’m not talking about dreams and hopes for things of this world – fame and fortune. I’m talking about dreams and hopes for the work you do, for the souls of those you love, for your own spiritual growth. I know a young girl in middle school who tried out for the cheer squad with another friend. They were nervous before the tryout and she suggested they pray. She led a prayer asking God to help them do their best and then give them whatever he wanted, even if it meant they would not be cheerleaders. That’s a beautiful prayer. God- we want this. Help us do our best. Then give us whatever You want. Why don’t we bring Him our dreams? Do we think we don’t deserve them? That may be true, but we get things we don’t deserve all the time – like salvation and redemption. Jesus says, "Bring me your dreams." And maybe we say, "But my dreams are too grand." And He responds, "That’s okay. I can make grand dreams happen. With me nothing is impossible."
Don’t be afraid to ask God for the big things. If it is good for your salvation or the salvation of another person, He will always answer that prayer.
Another thing to bring to God – the Strongman is our sins. We know all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are human – fallen beings. We mess up. So what do we do? We bring it to Jesus. We repent. We start again.
There are two ineffective ways of dealing with our sins. The first is to dismiss them. Have you ever done something you know is wrong and thought – it’s okay. It’s really no big deal. That is an example of dismissing your sin. But all of those little sins that I dismiss add up, and eventually I become less sensitive to sin. It’s like watching violence on TV. The first time you see it, it’s shocking. The next time a little less shocking. The time after that it’s even easier until eventually you can see some pretty horrific violence without it bothering you one bit. Sin works the same way. We should not dismiss even our smallest sins because they are offenses against God. So I bring even those small sins before Jesus and ask for the grace to stop doing that.
A second ineffective way of dealing with our sins is the opposite extreme – to hold on to our sins even after we have repented and been forgiven. It would be like Mary Magdalene, after being healed of the seven demons, continually asking Jesus to forgive her for entertaining those demons. He would say –"I already did that." Jesus isn’t the one who dwells on our sins – WE are. Our sins become part of our identity. If I have repented, and for me as a Catholic brought it to Confession, it’s done. It’s in the past. It is no longer my identity. If my sin was related to drug abuse, while I’m doing drugs, I am an addict. But if I go through rehab, I am no longer an addict, I am recovered. The addiction is part of my past, not my present. So when I dwell on my sins, I am living in my past. I need to get healing to let go of those sins, because that’s what Jesus wants for me.
So we need to bring our sins to Jesus. We might say,"Jesus my sins are pretty bad. I don’t think you can forgive them." And Jesus will say, "It’s okay, I have boatloads of mercy and grace."
That leads to another area we might hold back from God – our wounds. We are all wounded and sometimes our strategy for dealing with those wounds is to push them down – ignore them. Jesus wants to heal them. He wants us to show the wound or hurt to Him so we can be healed. Instead we pretend all is well. It reminds me of a Monty Python skit with the Knights. King Arthur’s arm is cut off and he says, "It’s just a scratch." When we pretend that all is fine and we don’t have any wounds, it’s like saying to Jesus, “That’s okay. I’ll be fine.” And Jesus responds, "I am the Divine Physician. Show me your wound and I can make you better than fine. I can make you whole.”
Whatever it is that you hold back from God – work or burdens or dreams or sins or wounds – or something else – let it go. He is strong enough. He is the ultimate Strongman. He can carry any of our burdens. And more than that, He loves us so much that He desires to be our strength. We don’t have to do this alone. So don’t. Give it all to God. Let Him help you.
Now here are two questions to bring to prayer.
What do you hesitate to bring to God and why?
How can you trust God more with every aspect of your life?