Monday, April 17, 2017

Rescuers Anonymous

12-Step Introduction: My name is Sydney Millage and I am a rescuer,
with an addition: being transformed by the power of God.

As I straightened the house and delivered items to the children's rooms, the temptation to fix this and fix that jumped out like a bogey man. Then I reminded myself that's not my job. They are responsible for their stuff. Real life and consequences are my friends (and theirs).
I'm a first-born. A fixer. I may not have the right answer, but if you ask, I always have at least one (answer, that is). I do it myself--17-grocery-bags-at-a-time-or-die-trying--when I could ask for help. I organize, give orders, and create spreadsheets.

I still do some of those things, but I see others, problems, God and myself differently than before.

You probably think of fixers and helpers as nice people. They're helpful, insightful, sensitive, caring, and self-sacrificing. The ugly beneath the surface of my heart was the desire for praise, approval, affection, wanting to be liked and wanted, even needed, by others. When others didn't give me what I thought I had earned through good intentions and sacrificial giving, evil thoughts and demands swirled in my head. I was nice on the outside, judgmental and critical on the inside. (Fear not, my friend, God uses even our sin for His good purpose. He can protect you from me--or use it for both of our sakes and His glory).

Over the years God has used various Scripture to show me that my job isn't to fix problems or people. In fact, I was the problem. By helping others, I made myself indispensable. It wasn't about them. It was really about me. I ran myself ragged helping people with black holes of demands, neglecting God-given responsibilities for nothing more than good feelings and others' praise. How sinfully selfish and prideful! I was using some people and neglecting others, calling it "good." It was no different than using dishonest weights--pouring myself out where I saw the greatest need (or immediate return on my efforts) and giving little where I didn't. (Proverbs 10:10 says, "Diverse weights and diverse measures, They are both alike, an abomination to the Lord.") In other words, I was playing God--desiring the power, control and praise that belongs to Him and Him alone.

Part of me would still rather fix and do than please God. It's an area I fight with prayer and Scripture, realizing I'm the one who needs rescued. When I try to help others without addressing my own sinful tendencies, I do nothing more than feign goodness, like the white-washed tomb of Jesus' day.

I now see how unkind it is to "help" individuals suffering the consequences of sinful or neglectful choices. Each time they are rescued from consequences and the weight of their need or sin, they are turned aside from Jesus. Temporary relief does harm, not good. Tragically, if we do not detect sin or a great need for comfort, peace, or forgiveness, God will not have us. We cannot come to God apart from our sin and our need for Jesus' substitutionary death and resurrection.

As Christians, we are called to help, love, be patient, kind and gentle, to bear one another's burdens. We are not called to remove consequences or be "the answer." There is a time and place to come alongside others and it's determined by love because "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:10)

By "staying in my lane" and trusting God to work, He receives credit and glory--all of it!

Instead of trying to change others or fix their circumstances, I have learned to cry out for help myself, with humility and dependence. And as I see God work in my life, I have the privilege of sharing with others, confident that "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.
How long will you attack a man?
You shall be slain, all of you,
Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.
They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth,
But they curse inwardly. Selah
My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor.
Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.
God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.
Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;
For You render to each one according to his work. (Psalm 62 NKJV)

* " For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2:10

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