The Man Who Helps Himself

June 19, 2012

Every summer has a song.

Since I turned sixteen most of mine have been sung by guys wearing boots and Wranglers.  Jake Owen’s ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’won my vote last year.  In 2009 I switched genres and jumped on the ‘Boom Boom Pow’ train.  I’m still not quite sure what that song’s about.

The glorious end of allergy season has finally allowed me to drop the windows down on the ’96 Accord, but I haven’t been blaring country music as usual. This summer a different tune’s remained on repeat. It’s not quite as upbeat, but does include the word ‘bootstraps.’

The first time I heard it I was cruisin’ down I-40 and needed wipers for my eyes.  It’s not a song that will make everyone cry, but a month later it still gets me.  Maybe it’s the emotion that comes with birth of our firstborn son.  Maybe it’s the fact that it’s 2am and I’m up writing.  Most likely it’s that the song punctures my deepest insecurity. 

Here’s the chorus of Andy Osenga’s ‘Firstborn Son.’ 

God, help the man who helps himself. 

He needs no other devil.

Give us
courage now to say farewell 

to this fear and watch it crumble.  

I claim to be a man of great faith in a powerful God, yet I daily default to dependence upon myself. If I just put in a little more effort, maybe God will hook a brotha’ up. 

If I work hard enough, 

maybe I can one day afford to buy my wife a bigger house.

If I give enough effort, 

maybe my family will be proud of me. 

If I act wisely, 

maybe I can prevent my kids from ever getting hurt.

If I try harder, 

maybe someone will notice me. 

If I show up at the high school just one more time…

If I give a lil better club talk…

If I make the coolest camp t-shirt…

If I get Big Jim to come to Campaigners…

If I work a little bit harder, maybe kids will meet Jesus.

Hogwash. Malarkey. Rubbish. Bullbutter.

‘God helps those who helps themselves’ is a lie from the Devil.  Paul speaks the truth quite clearly in 2 Corinthians 1, “Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.”

Father, help us to reach a point where we are utterly dependent upon You alone. Your strength is made perfect in our weakness. We tremble as we speak this prayer, yet even in our doubt, we humbly fall upon You. Give us
courage now to say farewell to this fear and watch it crumble. Amen.

Tomorrow on the blog I’ll explain one practical step we’re taking as a Young Life team to intentionally stop helping ourselves.  

You can read all the lyrics toAndy Osenga’s“Firstborn Son” here.  Andy is currently the special musician at Windy Gap and will be touring in the fall with his Leonard, The Lonely Astronaut tour.

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