A couple of days ago at the rescue house I was sitting at the breakfast table with two female volunteers and four of the boys. A couple of the boys had coughs or sore throats, and were asking for a little medicinal assistance. Suspiciously enough from a high-sugar syrup. The first boy took the bottle and tried to twist off the cap, and failed. One of the other volunteers took it and tried, and also failed. The second volunteer then said, "Let's just give it to Gavin to open it now," and that familiar feeling of pressure hit me. Two of the boys took this as a challenge and jumped up to try before me. After many failed attempts, they conceded defeat and handed me the bottle. I took one look at it, and then softly removed the strip of plastic that seals the cap, preventing it from being tampered with, and then easily unscrewed the lid in the face of slightly embarrassed laughs.
It made me think of how hard we work at trying to defeat our failures, when often our answer lies in a much simpler task than pure brute force.
In the face of one of the ever-present conflicts at the house, a particularly anger-prone boy was in the middle of a fight with his brother, and his face was covered with the familiar uncontrolled rage that indicated restraint was most likely imminent. I jumped in between the two boys and faced the anger-prone one. I shouted in a controlled manner, "You don't want to do this!!" At this point he took of one of his slops and threw it at his brother. "Listen to me! You don't want to do this! Think! Just let it go!! Let it go, and leave it alone!" He still hadn't take his eyes off of his brother, and his breathing got a lot heavier at this point. I still hadn't even touched him other than his shoulders to try get him to look at me.
I reached out and pulled a chair closer to us, and leaning down to his level I shouted again, "Just let it go, and sit down here with me!" And to my absolute amazement, he did. He looked away from his brother and slowly sat down on the chair in front of me, and turned to the side. "Awesome. That's all you need to do. You're doing awesome, just let it go." His face looked like it was still full of anger, but it seemed that he had chosen to give up the need to try and wrestle his dominance here. I was so very cautiously excited! I asked, "Are you okay, now? Can I leave you?" He nodded! So I got up and took the other brother away to brush his teeth. When I returned, my heart stopped when I saw the chair was now empty. I almost turned and ran back to the bathroom, when I looked inside and saw that he was now doing his chore, wiping clean the dining table!
All it took was realizing that he didn't have to do anything!
I have many ... many ... many (I don't know if I have enough 'many's memorized) personal troubles that I struggle with. I know I believe in God, and I know that the bible says that in Christ we have freedom from sin, I just have struggled and wrestled and put all of my strength in fighting this rebellion, very dismally. It breaks my heart every single time I let God down. I even question my claim to Christianity. But I read recently an explanation of Philippians 2.13, "It is God who works in you, both to will and to do for his good pleasure." I knew that God had changed my will, that's why I would always get so heart-broken. I just had never let God fight for me instead. I had never sat down with Him, and let Him deal with my sin. I had always tried to do it myself. A mind-blowing concept. It is God's job to fight for me! He just can't fight when I'm always getting in His way, and trying to fight in His place.
It is exactly as if the sealant on Christ's freedom had been removed. I'm not sure how much my little boy at the house has realized the truth in this lesson we experienced, and I am sure that I will let God down again, I just know that the cap on our potential through God is a lot easier to remove now that the sealant has gone.