March 2, 2005
Encouragement for Today
"Ask for Help" - Part Two
Rachel Olsen, Speaker Team Member, ETC Editor
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. James 5:16-17 (NLT)
As I said in yesterday's devotion, I found myself sleepless one night several weeks ago. I tried praying, reading and even some Sleepytime Tea, but just couldn't get back to sleep. So I did something I never do in the middle of the night, I turned on the television.
I came across a movie with an actress I liked, Sandra Bullock. In this movie, Sandra plays a character with a drinking problem, in denial about it, and sentenced to 28 days in a rehab center. It was a harsh and somewhat depressing movie and I kept wondering why I was watching it, until a light bulb went off.
Each of the characters at the rehab center had their own set of reasons and problems that led them down the path of addiction. One woman's underlying issues was made blatantly clear. She was forced by her therapist to wear a sign around her neck with the words: "Confront me if I don't ask for help." After laughing at this, I began imagining what life would be like if I - indeed if we all - walked around with signs around our neck telling others our biggest problems or sins.
Now that's a deep thought for 3:00 a.m., or anytime of the day! Why are we all so afraid to tell our problems to one another, to share our secrets, to ask for help? Perhaps we imagine we are the only ones with problems, or that our mistakes are somehow worse than others' mistakes. Would you be more willing to share your problems if you could read other's issues right there on a sign around their neck?
Would the world be a more even playing field if we could see all the beautiful people's flaws written there in black and white? What if we could read all the successful people's failures in life, on a card around their neck? Would we be less intimidated of others? Would we be less critical of ourselves? At the very least we would each be spared a lot of time, money and energy we expend daily trying to keep all our flaws in denial or under wraps.
Friends, let me just tell ya, my sign would be full. For starters, it would say that I've got credit card debt - and less income coming in than I had half a year ago. Now I know that Christians should manage their money in such a way as to avoid debt and should have 3 months salary saved for situations such as this, but I failed to do that. There, I said it. Would you please pray for my finances to increase so I can pay off this debt?!
Besides spending over budget, I'd have other weaknesses written on my card. I struggle more often than I care to mention with pride and selfishness. I am often slow to admit when I'm wrong or say that I'm sorry - especially to my husband. I even tell "little white lies" to excuse the fact that I forgot something or that I'm running late. Would you please pray for me to remain humble, gracious and truthful?
My sign would probably also mention that I "self-medicate" more often than I should with sweets rather than with prayer or scripture. I need to turn first to the meat of God's Word when I'm tired, stressed or feeling down, rather than to the Hershey bars I often reach for. Would you pray for me to hunger and thirst only after righteousness?
I think it's interesting that so many of the things we're trying so hard to keep from others, is really no surprise to them. Sure, no one has seen our credit card bills but when we walk in somewhere 10 minutes late, it is obvious that we have not managed our time well. When we slide off our coats, it is evident that we've got some weight to lose ... or gain. When there is unresolved conflict in our homes, it's generally evident to anyone who stops by. When we make decisions or solve problems with anything other than principals from the Word of God, it will eventually show in our lives.
Girls, why can't we be real with one another and ask for help? Are we in denial about our problems? Do we need to check into God's rehab center?
No one is perfect, except for Christ. We all fall short of the glory of God. The Bible tells us to confess our sins to Him for He alone can forgive them. However, it also indicates there are times we need to reveal our sins to others and receive their prayers and help.
My prayer for today:
Jesus, we are a generation of prideful people, unwilling to be real in front of You and others. But Lord, You see all anyway, and You have encouraged us to reach out to our brothers and sisters for help. Make me humble and willing to admit my sins. Amen.
Identify one or two trusted Christian friends or mentors in your life and ask God you need to confess anything to them.
What would your sign say? Write it out!
Do you confess your weaknesses and mistakes to others, or do you hide and make excuses?
What is the worst that could happen if others knew of your mistakes? They likely already do - and Jesus surely does.
When others confess their sins to you, are you faithful to keep their confidence and to pray for them?
Share each other's troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. Psalm 55:14 (NKJ)
Jesus said, "Where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them." Matthew 18:20 (NIV)
A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends. Job 6:14 (NIV)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 (NIV)
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