I went to school for nine months to learn how to become a hairstylist. Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon. It took him about fifteen years of higher education to learn how to operate on the human nervous system (especially the brain and spinal cord). I work on the outside of the head, he works on the inside of the head. Is it really that different?
A bad haircut is pretty devastating but hair grows back.
A wrong snip in the brain, someone may be a vegetable (at best) or dead (at worst) for the rest of their lives.
What if I walked into the operating room of a neurosurgeon and said, “Trust me, I can do this.” I would probably be taken against my will for a thorough psychiatric evaluation. However, what if I told everyone that Ben Carson had magically transferred his spirit into my body and he could do (in me) what I could not do. The only thing Ben needed from me was use of my body to do what was totally natural to him. My only job would be to yield completely. He warned me of the one thing that would make the process a complete failure…if I tried to help him. He told me I had to trust completely that he was in control and knew exactly what to do at all times. No matter how confused or squeamish I got at the sight of brains and blood, I must continue to trust his presence and ability and pay no attention to what I was capable of. All of him, none of me…except my yielded body. His Presence would guide my mind and everything else in me.
“All of him, none of me…except my yielded body”
What if I was able to complete the brain surgery beautifully and flawlessly? They would know they had witnessed a miracle. They would have no choice but to believe Ben Carson was indeed living in my body, enabling me to function at a level that was humanly impossible.
At the end of the surgery, can you imagine me raising my arms in triumph and strutting around the room? Absolutely not! I had only one role and It was only to yield myself to the one in me who could do what I couldn’t do. If I had made one move on my own it would have been disastrous and deadly.
As I wrote this, I thanked God that my self-effort in the Christian life didn’t cause what self-effort in an operating room would. The entire trail of my life would be strewn with many people in a vegetative state and lots of dead bodies.
“When God gets our body completely given over to Him, there’s no limit to what He can do…if we don’t let self-effort be our guide”
The life God has called and enabled us to live should be a miracle just as big as brain surgery to a watching world. When we say The Holy Spirit is in us, people should see a life that is not possible for a human to live. Our very lives (much more than our words) should prove to people that God is inside our body. When God gets our body completely given over to Him, there’s no limit to what He can do…if we don’t let self-effort be our guide. Trying to improve “me” enough to be like my Creator would be equal to a hairdresser thinking she (or he) could try a little harder and do brain surgery.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. “
I have to stay in my body until either Jesus comes back, or I die. How do I now live in this body to show the world that Jesus is real and let them experience His life flowing through me? I have to have faith in His ability to do everything I cannot. The words belief, trust, and confidence can also be put in the sentence where “faith” is used.
- The life I now live in the body, I live by belief in the Son of God.
- The life I now live in the body, I live by trust in the Son of God.
- The life I now live in the body, I live by confidence in the Son of God.
What is left out of the life I am to live in my body? Scripture says nothing about trying to get better. Scripture says, “I am no longer to live.” I am to yield and let Christ live out His life through my body.
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”
“We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.” (C.S. Lewis)
Trying to be good for us is like trying to be a brain surgeon when we aren’t.
The second quote fills me with hope. Jesus was the ONLY MAN (person) who never yielded to temptation. Think about the power in that statement. We have a Man who has actually lived a complete life on earth, been tempted in every way just like us, and never failed.
“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. “
When Jesus came to earth, something that had never happened…happened. God became one of us. He did all the hard work. The Holy Spirit empowered Him to live a life that no human had ever or will ever live. Jesus showed the world the Father by living a life totally yielded. He did not do His will, only God’s.
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. “
He completed the work God gave Him to do and now He has done the impossible. He made a way to put that same Spirit inside of our bodies. All we have to do is completely give up trying to be good and let Him be good through us. We have to fight the temptation to be good on our own. Our lives are to be an evidence of power from another universe. People should see how we live and say, “God has to be real because he/she is not capable of that.”
“We have to fight the temptation to be good on our own. Our lives are to be an evidence of power from another universe”
This is both depressing and empowering. Depressing because we all fall so short, but empowering because we see what can be.
Failure is my self-effort on display. If I were always one hundred percent yielded to God, I would not fail. Our failures are not to make us give up, they are to help us see that we are not living by faith in the Son of God. Learning how to yield every moment when all we know is “try harder” is hard. I’m glad Paul felt the same way.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
My failures are overwhelming at times and it’s easy to focus on them and want to give up. I will choose to look at them and say, “Thank you for showing me for the millionth time, I can’t do this. Something in me keeps trying to help you, Lord. I feel like you expect it.”
I don’t know for sure because I cannot hear God audibly, but I think He says, “It has hurt me so to see you struggle. I had to let you keep on so you could see where self-effort would take you.”
Self-effort is a dark, confusing, and horrible place. I personally think it feels exactly like what being in the middle of brain surgery and taking over the reins of control would feel like. All I would want to do is quit and go hide because I am exposed for what I am...completely powerless.
The truth of the Christian life is exactly that. No wonder Jesus said,
“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”
Jesus knew His disciples would be eaten alive without the Spirit inside of them. I have been eaten alive by self-effort and I’m so thankful. Failure has shown me for what I am...powerless. It is not rocket science. It’s harder. The Christian life is not hard, it is impossible. Only the Holy Spirit can do it.
We are either operating in our power or the power from heaven. We can’t do both.