I need help! This was how the prayer at the beginning of the worship service started yesterday and it certainly caught my attention. I listened with great interest to the rest of the prayer as the woman went through several variations – “they need help” and “we need help.” It was an honest and refreshing prayer, although I have to admit, when she said “they need help,” I wondered who she was to say that I need help.
It is so difficult for us to admit when we need help. Ranger Leah, our boss at Kings Mountain, is pregnant. She is also a fiercely independent and strong woman. Her doctor told her she can’t lift anything over 25 pounds, but she is accustomed to lifting boxes and other items up to 60 pounds. Asking for help in lifting a box she knows she can carry is a very difficult thing for her to do.
When we are young we expect adults to help us. We have no problem saying “help me!” Sometimes we say it too often. But as we get older we are less willing to admit we need help. Somewhere between puberty and being out of our teenage years, we learn to hide the things we cannot do. We become ashamed of having to ask for help.
About 10 years ago I tore my ACL. It was extremely painful and I could barely walk. I made an appointment to go to the doctor but insisted on driving myself (the tear was in my left leg). When I went to get into the car I was driving, I had to put all my weight on my left leg. The leg buckled and I ended up lying outside the door of the vehicle, in the snow, unable to get up and in tremendous pain. Tom and John were both in the house, so I started yelling – but it seemed so absurd. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! Help! Help me!”
Fortunately John heard me and helped me get up. He brushed the snow off and then drove me to my doctor’s appointment. I was very grateful for his help and thankful that he heard me when I was yelling. But I was also mortified that I wasn’t able to drive myself to the doctor. I am a person who helps others – not a person who needs to be helped.
But we all have times when we need help and I’ve actually become better at asking for help. When Tom and I were moving out of our house, I took all the help I could get! When people help us it connects us to one another in bonds of friendship or love. It helps the other person feel useful and more willing to ask for help when they need it. There is a reciprocal relationship where we know we can count on each other and that is a blessing.
Do you ever tell God, “I need help”? We have the same unwillingness to ask for God’s help as we do to ask for the help of others. We want to be independent – adults – mature. And we think being an adult means not admitting we need help. But the real sign of maturity is asking for help before we get in so deep we drown. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” How wonderful that we can rely on him when we need help.
God also needs our help. Just as he is our refuge and strength, we are his hands and feet in the world. There is much we can do for him. Maybe not a reciprocal relationship, but it is certainly a covenant relationship.