self preservation and faith.

There is a beautiful metaphor in Anita Johnston’s book that describes letting go of the very thing that has saved your life. She describes a drowning woman thrust into the water and faced with intense rapids who is able to grasp at a passing log to hold on to, to save her life. However, when faced with the task of swimming towards those who would save her, those who are shouting, “let go of the log!” – those who would pull her out of the water, she can’t let go. She cannot let go of what has become her lifeline – she cannot let go and so she remains in the water.

There are many versions of this metaphor floating around, but this one really got under my skin and opened up so many questions on self-preservation. My little brother once looked me in the eye and said, “the thing you are resisting, the thing you are fighting against, is the very best thing for you. You are fighting what God has to offer.” How often have I relied on my own strength to pull myself through a struggle? How often has God provided me strength for a season, something good, that I refused to let go of when He asked? Like the women in the story was given a log, God often gives us what we need in the moment to prepare us for something bigger, but how often in my stubbornness and limited view do I choose to hang onto the log.

Why do I consistently return to the bondage of self-preservation? I call it bondage because any form of attempting to save or preserve myself is ultimately sinful behavior and keeps me from Christ. It is ultimately something keeping me from seeing God, a type of sin that easily gives way into doubt and anger. When I’m relying on myself there can be no real growth, no real change, and often what seems good is really rather fleeting.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When it seems like I know best, like I can make choices and choose a path for my life better than God can, I am reminded of this verse. I am reminded that it is ok to admit my own weakness, that it is ok to be humble before God, because He is enough. I do not have to save myself from whatever hard things are coming at me because He is enough and He will provide. Again I am reminded of the metaphor above, my trust should be in God, not in the log. Yes, the log is good, with the log God saves us from drowning, but real trust is letting go and having the faith that as He continues to move us forward to the next thing He is still good, He is still enough. Hebrews 11 tells us over and over what faith can do, and that it is through faith that God fulfills His promises to us, it is through our faith that we are able to keep moving forward in Him.

“God you are so good to us. You continually save us from our selves. Father, help me to rely on you alone, strengthen my faith so that my pride and my desire to have everything figured out would not keep me from letting go and trusting you. You alone are my protection, my source of security, and my provider. Father, forgive for the times I try and take things into my own hands, forgive me for trying to save myself. Help me to rely on You always, and not simply that gifts that You gives. I pray I will look past my circumstances and keep my eyes and my heart focused on you, Lord.”

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