“They returned to Joshua and reported, ‘Don’t bother sending a lot of people – two or three thousand men are enough to defeat Ai….’”
Joshua 7: 3
“On My Own”
“We are all weak, finite, simple human beings, standing in the need of prayer. None need it so much as those who think they are strong, those who know it not, but are deluded by self-sufficiency.”
Harold C. Phillips
Is there an area in my life where I have been acting as though I am self-sufficient when in fact, I am not, and I desperately need God’s help?
“Do not be self-sufficient but place your trust in God.”
Thomas á Kempis
“It is easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing – that’s the Lord’s test.”
(Heaven’s greatest Gospel singer!)
I love music – especially gospel music. I can still remember the first time, as a young girl, I heard a phonograph recording of Mahalia Jackson, whom I call heaven’s greatest gospel singer. She was singing, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” Even today I get shivers up my spine when I hear her astounding voice sing out, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
Not only are the words of this beautiful hymn needed to comfort us today, but the wisdom of Mahalia Jackson, who found no security in earthly money but in God’s protection, is as current as if she spoke the quotation today.
As I am certain nearly everyone knows right now, the financial markets of our world are shaky at best. Here in the United States, there are many people caught in the clutches of financial turmoil and it’s taking a toll on their family, health and future.
Tragically, the more we cling to those “things” that somehow give us status, the more we begin to feel that without our trinkets, we aren’t worth anything at all.
I find it so providential that at this time when “men and women’s hearts are failing them for fear,” here in Transformation Garden, we “happen” to be studying about God’s children and their experience at Ai.
Yesterday, our first lesson from Ai was that there are no little things in our lives. There are no “Ai’s” where we don’t need God. Our second lesson from Ai is that we aren’t self-sufficient. Way too often we think we are. We unfortunately believe that Ai is a cake-walk. It’s tiny, small and insignificant. So we believe our, “I can do it myself” attitude is enough to make us successful. Before you know it, we’ve been defeated and are running for cover – embarrassed and confused.
I was reading a newspaper article this week which I found extremely interesting. The writer noted that church attendance at some of the large edifices located on or near Wall Street have seen a dramatic increase in people coming to those sacred buildings to pray. It seems it is true that our money, our clothes, our homes – our things, aren’t enough to make any of us sufficient in our day of trouble.
After sizing up the Ai situation, the Israelite soldiers came to the erroneous conclusion they were enough. On their own they could take care of Ai. But before we criticize their decision, let me be quite frank with you. I’ve done the same, more times than I’d like to admit.
“I can handle this situation,” I say to myself, and off I go to battle and before I know it, I’m taking flight, chased by fear back to the shelter of my Father who has promised: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10: 29-31, K.J.V.).
Why should I want to be on my own when I can have the guiding hand of my Father to hold onto? A hand that protects me through every battle, whether it’s a Jericho or an Ai.
Today, if you feel as though the false confidence of self-sufficiency has toppled your world, just imagine the melodious voice of Mahalia Jackson filling your world with this comforting melody:
“Why should I be discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely
and long for heaven and home
when Jesus is my portion?
My constant friend is He.
His eye is on the sparrow and I
know He watches me.
Whenever I am tempted,
whenever clouds arise,
when song gives place to sighing,
when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him;
from care He sets me free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.”
Civilla D. Martin
“The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms….”
Deuteronomy 33: 27
This moment is Yours;
mine for You,
and Yours for me.
I need You.
I cannot survive without You;
and yet I go on rushing through life
as if I could do everything in my own strength.
I know that You care for me at all times,
and that I am always in Your hands;
but I still need to pause
and let my heart and spirit
be loved by You
into loving You again.”