I lived in Texas for 3 months this summer while working at a camp. This is a blog series on things I learned while there.
Texas is hot. I don’t think y’all understand. Imagine a place where it’s 83 degrees with high humidity at 8:30 in the morning. Then imagine that same place getting up to 106 degrees but it feeling like 110 with the heat index. That’s Texas. At camp we had to run, jump, yell, and corral small children in that ridiculous heat. On the plus side though, I got a nice tan.
I worked camp for 11 weeks. We had this crazy schedule that involved maybe 24 hours of uninterrupted off time a week. It seemed like we were always on the go. High energy was a requirement. And to top it off, add the stress that comes with being in charge of 8 elementary age kids. Pine Cove is a super fun way to spend a summer but it’s an incredibly difficult one too. The only way to get through it is to rely on the Lord.
I think we would all say that we rely on the Lord in our lives. But do we really? Or do we just come to him when we need a little help to get what we want? I know I’m certainly guilty of ignoring God until about 5 minutes before that test I hadn’t studied for. But this summer, I learned what complete reliance on the Father looks like. I heard a sermon this summer that made me look at how I asked God to help me. Usually, I would be of the mindset that I had some ability but I just needed Jesus to give me that little boost to put me over the top. Like I would pray before a big test but I wasn’t worried about a little quiz. I only needed God’s help on the big stuff. And that could not be further from the truth.
In that sermon I mentioned, the pastor talked about shifting from a life that’s 80% you and 20% Jesus to a life that’s 100% Jesus. In our heads, I think we know that we can do nothing without Jesus. But we live our lives as if Jesus is a power-up in a video game. We go to him when we need a little extra help when he should already be our everything. I think this really clicked for me Week 9 of camp. The summer was starting to draw to a close. My body was not super happy with me and it let me know by way of shin splints and a hacking cough. Mentally and emotionally, I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept in my own bed in over 2 months and I really missed Athens. I remember praying in my quiet time that week and telling the Lord that I had nothing in the tank. It was literally going to have to be him because I was about done. Then the Lord did this really cool thing where he literally carried me through that week of camp. I went hard and I was exhausted at the end of every day but somehow I had energy the next day. Week 9 was my favorite week of camp because I literally didn’t do anything. It was all God.
It was easy for me to rely on God when I was in a place where I had literally no choice. But the reality is that we don’t live our lives in that place all the time. I’m home now and in a place where I generally feel comfortable. But with that comes the temptation to stop relying on the Lord. All of us have areas that we feel confident in. We feel like we can not rely on the Lord because we got this in the bag. We have to fight that complacency to stay in a constant state of reliance on the Father. Every breath we take is because of him but somehow we feel like we can get through our day on our own. Oh, we’ll come running back when all hell breaks loose but as soon as things calm down we’re back to depending on ourselves. Thanks for the help, God, but I got this now. Even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous it is but I also realize how guilty I am of ignoring God except for when I need him.
So how do we avoid slipping into self-reliance? One way is to consciously remind yourself every day that you can’t get through the day without it. Not merely a cursory mental acquiescence but a conscious realization of the fact and what it means for you. You can’t do life on your own. Ergo, you need someone to help you. Enter God. Another thing that helps is to take time to ask the Lord for help whenever life is overwhelming. Literally stopping in the moment when things are going crazy and asking Jesus to take the wheel is a great way to remind yourself that you don’t have to rely on yourself. Finally, thanking the Lord when something goes your way is a super cool way to remind yourself that anything good in your life come from God. It takes two seconds but that intentional gratefulness reminds us that God is the one from whom all blessings flow.
It seems counterintuitive to fight to rely on God. Like you’re striving…in order to not strive. But if we don’t make an effort, we revert to relying on ourselves because that’s what we see in the world around us. It makes sense. “If you want something done right, do it yourself” is what we’ve been told. But relying on the Lord takes the pressure off us and allows us to sit back watch God be God. And that’s pretty fun.