Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apart From Him We Can Do NOTHING!

We all have natural abilities. While we may not be able to play like Michael Jordan on the basketball court, there are certain natural skills that we all possess. Some may be good with numbers, while others may be great at fixing things with their hands. Some may have excellent problem solving skills, while others have a 4 octave vocal range. Some may be great speakers, while others can throw a football 60+ yards. While I would love to throw a football 60 yards, or glide through the air like Jordan, I was not endowed with the ability to do either. Regardless of how hard I tried or practiced, I would never be able to measure up to Jordan or even a bench warmer on the worst team in the NBA.

I'm a musician. While there may be some who would debate that statement having heard my skills, I do play guitar a little. I'm not sure how much "natural" ability I have when it comes to playing guitar, but I have to think there is at least a little bit. Afterall, I have tried to teach some people to play that after a few lessons I'm convinced can never be taught to play. So, my theory is that if you can even play a little bit, there has to be just a hint of natural talent at the least. Perhaps I could become a better player if I practiced more, but the truth is if I haven't reached my peak, I'm pretty close. Over the years I have logged in many, many practice hours on the guitar and although I seemed to improve in the early days, that improvement has either stopped or become little more than stagnant. Kind of like my basketball skills. When I was young, I played and played and played and played and at some point hit my peak. I came to the end of my ability to improve.

I know there is always room for improvement, but let's face it sometimes we just have to come to terms with the fact that there is a pinnacle and once that is reached, all that we do from then on is an effort to stay at that level. So, it could just very well be that as far as my guitar playing goes, everything I'm doing now is simply an effort to maintain rather than increase my skill level. What I need now is for God to breath on it. Actually, from day one, that's what we all need.

We are very good at doing life apart from God. While that is certainly true about unbelivers the tragedy is that it is often equally true about believers. We have these natural skills and abilities and navigating through life without God is not all that difficult. Sure, we claim to know God, but we invite Him in only when we truly need Him. Only when we come to the end of our ability. We walk through life leaning on our own abilities and often trust ourselves more so than we trust God. Ouch! Some would argue that it was God who gave us our gifts and abilities so are we really doing life apart from God? Picture Adam and Eve in the garden. Was is not God who breathed life into them? Was it not God who gave them a free will? And what did they do with it? They chose to do life apart from God with the very breath He gave them and the ability to choose granted to them by their Creator.

We do the very same thing as the two of them. We take our natural abilities and we choose to do life apart from God. If and when we come to the end of our ability then we ask God to get involved. Somehow, I think we are missing the point of how we are to do life.

Picture if you will a famous rock star. Maybe a great guitarist. While it might be true that he has a great deal of natural talent, apart from God, it is nothing but the flesh. He may receive the glory and praise of thousands of followers, but in the end his natural ability, that is void of the life of God, does little more than entertain.

In Scripture we are told of David who was a musician. Now, you can't find any of his concerts on youtube, so we aren't sure how great he was at playing his instrument, but the Bible does tell us that he was a skilled musician. We are told that when he played before Saul, the atmosphere in the room shifted and the tormenting spirits that plagued Saul left. If we aren't careful, we'll make the mistake of thinking that David must have been some awesome musician. The fact is that the atmospheric shift in the room was less about David's skill and more about God's presence in the room. Apart from God's breath on His playing, David would have been unable to do little more than entertain Saul.

Leaning on our natural abilities will always leave us inept at living the kind of life God designed us to live. Scripture tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing. Jesus speaking of Himself makes this statement, "The Son can do nothing on His own." Perhaps one day we'll discover that what is true about Jesus is true about all of us. Whenever we lean on our own abilities and try to attempt life apart from God, then all that we do amounts to zero, nada, zip, the big goose egg, NOTHING! Flesh is flesh. Whether its extremely talented flesh or mildly talented flesh, the result is always the same. On the other hand whenever we determine to do life in such a way that we lean on God and trust in His ability more so than ours, we'll tap into the kind of life He designed us to live.

The Lord never intended for us to simply connect with Him when we have reached the end of our ability. He wants to be a part of the ride from the beginning. He longs for us to understand that He is the vine and we are the branches and only when we are connected to Him can we experience true life. Doing life apart from Him is pretty much the equivalence of a branch disconnected from a tree trying to attach itself to something other than the trunk in order to find life. All I know is that all the branches in my back yard disconnected from the trunk are dying or are already dead. So it is with everything we attempt apart from our Creator. It all ends up to be death in the end.

While I could spend endless hours trying to get my fingers to play Bbmaj9, I'm thinking it would be more advantageous for me to figure out how to get God to breath on my playing. Afterall, the former would do nothing but stroke my ego a bit, while the latter just might bring glory to God.

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