Bring Out the Stretcher

Throughout my life, I’ve broken or sprained major body parts many times.  I broke my right wrist when I was about five years-old.  My brother convinced me to do a flip off the swing set.  I did not stick the landing.  I severely sprained my right foot when I leaned on a concrete bird bath, only to have the top (weighing about 50 lbs.) fall off the stand and onto my foot.  I sprained my ankle playing soccer in third grade.  I broke my wrist again playing volleyball during the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school.  I broke multiple toes playing basketball (Note: I did not break any when I played varsity sports for all four years in high school, and intramurals in college.  I broke the toes when I got “old.”)  I also nearly snapped my pinky toe off playing touch football with my son in the house.  Remember when your mama told you (or still tells you) not to play ball in the house?  Yeah; she was right.

So, with all the injuries, I’ve had my fair share of time wearing casts, splints, wraps, and band-aids.  I’ve also spent some time hobbling around on crutches.  I can’t say I’m fond of crutches.  They rubbed my armpits raw, and my arms were sore nearly every day from using them.  I usually knocked stuff over, and would end up getting stuck moving around the classroom because I couldn’t maneuver around the desks and chairs.  They were awkward, and a royal pain.

I’m not putting down the actual crutches, mind you.  They served a valuable purpose.  Because my leg wasn’t functioning the way it should have, they helped me get around.  I could lean on them, and occasionally rest.  Granted, I did most of the work getting around; but they were there to support me through the tough times.

Every so often, I hear someone say that Jesus is their “crutch.”  The concept is that He is there to support them through the tough times.  He is there to lean on when the pain is too much to handle.  In short, He helps hold them up.

To be honest, this concept has always bothered me a little bit.  Think about that idea.  I am leaning on Jesus in the tough times.  Yet, I am still doing a bunch of the work, and putting forth a lot of effort to move around through life.  The focus is in the wrong place.  I am the one doing the work.  I am still propelling myself forward.  I lean on Him.  The focus is on me.  And, that’s not the biblical concept of how things are supposed to work.

Too often, we get trapped in that mindset.  We tell ourselves “If I behave good enough, Jesus will save me,” or “If I make sure and do certain things perfectly, God will love me.”  Yes, we should strive to live a life worthy of God; and, yes, we should always try to do our best.  But, that still puts the focus on us; not Him.  We are trying to use Him as a crutch.  We lean on Him when we fail.  We are trying to earn our salvation through that mindset.  However, that’s not the way it works.  Check out how the prophet Isaiah recorded these words from God in Isaiah 46:4

I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.

Notice where the focus is at.  It is God that will not only prop us up – He will CARRY us.  And, as a result of God carrying us, He will SAVE us!  God isn’t our crutch.  He is our stretcher!  The focus must be on Him.

See, here’s the kicker – we can’t earn salvation.  There is nothing that we can do under our own physical, emotional, or intellectual power to be saved.  We can’t.  In fact, Paul says in Romans 3:23-24:

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

He says it right there; we don’t deserve the salvation God gives.  No matter how much effort we put into it, we can not save ourselves.  Now, if we use Jesus as a crutch, maybe you’re thinking, that you are only doing 50% of the work and Jesus is doing the other 50%.  OK, I’ll give you that argument.  However, that is still not biblical.  In fact, Jesus puts it plainly in John 6:63:

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

So, here is the challenge – stop leaning on Jesus.  Stop trying to do it on your own.  Stop hobbling through life under your own power.  Stop trying to help God.  God doesn’t need our help.  He’s God!  He can do anything!

Instead, surrender your life to Him.  Lay down on the stretcher that He offers to anyone and everyone.  Let Him carry you.  Let Him give you rest while He does the work.  Let Him take you on the most amazing journey you could ever experience.  Let Him take over.  Let His Spirit invade every part of your life.  He will take you down the road that leads to Heaven.  I guarantee that you will enjoy the ride.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

 

 

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