I was reading tonight from a book by Catherine Marshall called "Beyond Ourselves." There is a chapter entitled "The Power of Helplessness." I wanted to share a passage of this chapter that addresses our self-sufficiency. It is compelling.

In the complex world of today, just how self-sufficient are we? We had nothing to do with our being born--no control over whether we were male or female, Japanese, or Russian, or British, or American, white or yellow or black. We did not control our ancestry or the basic mental or physical equipment with which we started life.

Even after birth an autonomic nervous system controls the vital processes of life. A power that no one understands keeps our hearts beating, our lungs taking in air, our blood circulating, our body temperature up.

A surgeon can cut human tissue, but he is helpless to make the severed tissue heal. We grow old relentlessly and automatically. In the end, despite all the so-called miracles of modern medicine, every one of us must die.

Self-sufficient? Hardly!

The planet on which we live rotates on an axis tipped at the angle of 23 1/2 degrees, the necessary angle for the climactic conditions that support life. Were the earth not tilted, continents of ice would lie at the poles and probably deserts between them. Moreover, the earth is exactly the right distance, some ninety-two million miles, from the sun. Any nearer, we would be consumed with solar radiation; any farther away, we would be frozen to death. Were this angle and this distance somehow to change, we would all be instantly destroyed.

The natural balance of oxygen and nitrogen in the air we breathe is exactly right for men and animals. The law of gravity which holds the world together operates independently of us. And is man--little man who struts and fumes upon the earth--self-sufficient? Not at all...

The Scriptures say that you and I are helpless even in relation to our own spiritual lives. We want to feel that God is real. We think that we are reaching out for Him. This is an illusion. "No one," Jesus said, "is able to come to me unless he is drawn by the Father." "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you."

We want salvation from our sins and we yearn for eternal life. We think that we can earn these things; Saul of Tarsus thought so too. Then we find out, as Paul did, that we cannot pile up enough good marks and merits to earn anything from God. No, salvation "is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."


Todd said…
Incredibly well said. Catherine Marshall is describing what is found all throughout scripture, that God is in control and Man is not. God's word truly interpreted always results in the humbling of man and glorifies God.

Spurgeon said: “tell us how to discern the truth.” You may judge of it by three things; by God, by Christ, and by man; that is, the truth which honours God, the truth which glorifies Christ, and the truth which humbles man. "

Helpless am I.