February 20, 2008

He's Enough!

2008 1505 page31 caps the clock wound down in the last days of 1999, on the eve of the fabled (and feared) “Y2K” event, I had a choice: what to stock up on, in case the “Millennium Bug” hit. Some readers may recall that in 1998 and 1999 many people believed the turn of the calendar would usher in a computer-generated time of trouble. All sorts of stories arose of people who moved far into the country, stuffed their homes with prepackaged foods and barrels of drinking water, and waited for tribulation to arrive, all because some computer programs and switches were expected to fail when the date changed.

As memory serves, there were virtually no reports of catastrophe that day. In my office hangs a copy of a Washington Times front page from January 1, 2000: “The end of the world—not!” I savor the irony, especially
since all I’d stored up for the event was a full gas tank, some bottled water, and an extra $50 in cash.

The gasoline is long gone, the water used, and the $50 a distant memory.

More recently, my wife and I went through a week in which we were well tested: she was ill for a couple of days, I was occupied with her care and a visiting relative, another relative nearby had some minor problems, and all the while the clock was steadily ticking, saying we didn’t have much time left to accomplish all that was necessary.

2008 1505 page31One evening I’d just about had it. The day just ending had presented continuous challenges, crises, and roadblocks—one after another. There wasn’t much left to give, if anything. It was temptingly easy to throw in the towel.

You may have heard the old bromide about when you reach the end of your “rope,” the best thing to do is “tie a knot and hang on.” Perhaps. But if all I’m hanging on with is my own self-confidence, there had better be a big safety net underneath. Self-confidence is a fickle thing at best; just one upset, one pinprick and it can burst as easily as a soap bubble.

Such realizations can be particularly difficult for those of us reared in a can-do, self-reliant culture. The name of Ralph Waldo Emerson may mean little, or even nothing, to a postmodern generation, but his concept of “self-reliance” permeates much of modern culture. We’re supposed to be able to handle things on our own; for example, when a fictional Mafia chieftain consults a psychiatrist for help, the contrast is how this “tough guy” is utterly helpless in the face of his own anxiety attacks.

For the Christian—for this Christian—the realization is simple: I can’t do it all by myself. There are limits, seeming dead ends. It’s at these moments that I must fall before my Maker and ask Him for help, guidance, strength, and even hope. The Y2K “bug” didn’t sap everything from society, or from me, but modern life can sometimes have that effect.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” is the way my favorite rabbi, Saul of Tarsus, put it in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.

That’s how I was feeling and, truth be told, still feel as I steal a moment at the keyboard: “hard pressed on every side.” But I’m not crushed! Not because of anything I have, or am, but because of everything He has, and is!

Jesus is enough! He went through much more “pressure,” encountered far more perplexity, and certainly was persecuted far more than I have been, ever. Yet He triumphed! He triumphed over death, something no one else has ever done. And He offers that ultimate victory to me—and to you.

“When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,” Annie Johnson Flint once wrote in a poem that became a beloved hymn, “our Father’s full giving is only begun.”

It’s enough to have Jesus! In fact, He’s all you need, or ever shall. I’m so grateful for that hope, both today and for the eternity to come!