“Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” — Hebrews 4:16
I did some vehicle recovery training early in my military career. I don’t remember much of it other than this one exercise where the instructors drove an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier into a swamp and told us to drag it out using some ropes, pulleys, ground anchors and get this—a hand winch! An M113 weighs around 10 tons and this one was down a bank and in the mud. The winch was rated for 2 tons! We followed the instructor’s directions and set up a series of ropes running through pulleys and anchored to solid ground at the other end. The pulley was then attached to the end of another rope and so on. The theory was that each pulley/rope/ground anchor we set up doubled the weight we could pull because the ground anchors would take half the weight. I think we had seven or eight ground anchors in all. With much disbelief, I recall grabbing the handle on the hand-winch and cranking it back and forth, expecting to hear ropes snap. To my amazement the theory worked and slowly we hand winched the M113 out of the swamp!
God kind of works the same way. We are able to do a little and He, through His Holy Spirit, amplifies our efforts to achieve things we may never have thought possible. We apply effort and He adds His grace and mercy. It’s a pretty simple concept, but one that we can easily forget when we are overwhelmed or under-inspired. I can think of two categories that we can fall into on this one…
The first is where we forget to ask God for help. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed that we don’t ask God for help and we just accept our bad circumstances and stay in them. I have certainly had times when the obstacle in front of me seemed like an overhanging cliff of glass – impossible to climb over, so why would I bother trying? God’s grace is there for the asking, but we need to pick ourselves up and make an effort to “approach God’s throne”, because that’s where the grace is that will get us through our hard times.
The second category is when we deliberately don’t ask God for help. We struggle along through trials without talking to God, and then we wonder why we become exhausted and defeated. I think it is because we don’t believe that God would want to help us. Maybe because we know we deserve the trouble we are in and we don’t understand that God’s mercy and grace are by their very nature intended to be given to people who don’t deserve them. That’s what they are for! Or maybe we think God only cares about the big things and we can’t believe that God would help little us with our minor (on the scale of the universe) problems. Maybe we don’t understand that God’s grace is not measurable – it applies to all problems no matter how small or large. I have experience in this. I have tried to get out of difficult situations without asking for God’s help. I expended a lot of effort unnecessarily for a minimal gain. I had failed to understand the leverage principle.
If I don’t ask for God’s help, then how can God work in my life? He wants me to put my foot forward first and even if my step is a little wobbly, the Holy Spirit will then show me what He can do with my tiny effort and His mercy and grace. If I struggle but don’t ask God to help, then it’s like I’m trying to drag an Armored Personnel Carrier out of a swamp with just my own strength while God’s pulleys and ropes lie idle beside me – why would I do that? (That’s a real question because I have done that).
The really cool thing I have discovered recently is that when I use the grace God gives me to overcome an obstacle, He gives me more grace so I can achieve even more. By seeing this at work, my confidence has grown and I am doing more than I would have thought I was capable of… which is because I am not capable of these things. But my small efforts plus God’s limitless mercy and grace produces some amazing results. You should try it. Go confidently to God with your problems or desires and ask for His mercy and grace to overcome or achieve them.
Life is full of M113s stuck in swamps – mortgages, challenges at work, children struggling with issues, deployments, marriage tension, difficult work situations, and on and on we could go. Please don’t give up from the start or struggle in your own strength and be defeated. Instead, have confidence in our God. Approach His throne and there you will find the mercy and grace you need to help you just when you need it.
Questions to Share:
1. What three things do you most need help with right now (share them with your spouse)?
2. Based on Hebrews 14:6, how confident are you that God can help you with those things? Is there anything that God can’t help you with?
3. Based on Hebrews 14:6, how confident are you that God wants to help you with those things?
4. Approach God’s throne in prayer, thank Him that He gives His grace and mercy freely and ask Him to help you with the things you need help with.