Tipping off the ladder

If you are like me, you like to be in control of your life.

For example, when I order a salad, I ask for the salad dressing on the side. It's a small thing, but nonetheless, it's something I can control. But there have been a few times when things in life got completely out of my control.

One instance was during a summer in college when I worked as an industrial painter. We rigged up a multi-level scaffolding using ladders, ladder jacks and planks in order to paint the nearly 30 foot ceiling, walls and columns. On the first day of painting, I was working on the second level of the setup about 15 feet in the air, and I decided to swing on a rope instead of walk around on the planks. As I began to swing, the ladder began to tip over and I was completely and utterly helpless.    

Maybe you have faced a situation that was way out of your control (and it may have even been like in my case because of your own choices!). Perhaps you have been on a motorcycle going 60 mph and a deer jumped out. Or maybe it was financial peril -- it was the beginning of the month and you were down to your last dollar. It could be that you received a dreadful medical diagnosis. What do you do when you are toppling off life's ladder?

King David, the writer of the 61st Psalm in the Bible, gives us an option when things are out of control. "Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe." David's words, captured thousands of years ago, say to us today that when things are out of control, there is help.

Here is a very simple and basic definition of prayer: Prayer is a cry to God for help. Prayer is like the little toddler that when she realizes she is away from familiar faces cries out, "Momma!" Prayer is like that emergency 9-1-1 call, except that we do not have to dial out. Prayer makes sense when we realize that we are in trouble and help is needed.

The call of prayer can happen even when we feel far away and alone, "from the ends of the earth I call," or when we are losing the strength to continue, "my heart grows faint." When I was in the middle of riding that ladder to the floor, I remember crying out, "God help me ... I am an idiot!" Prayers do not have to be sophisticated but are a very personal statement of, "I can't do it and I need you, God."

King David was sort of a superstar in his own right. He was a strong king having neighboring kingdoms in subjection and immensely wealthy, yet he confesses his weakness here. Many scholars believe the incident behind his prayer in Psalm 61 was the insurrection of his beloved son Absalom. Regardless of circumstance, David has been humbled and is keenly aware of his inability. This is not the first time that he had reached for help, "For you have been my refuge." Issues will arise in our lives that will batter even the most self-sufficient. The best life course is to admit we are needy, invite the Lord to help and see what happens. The moment after I prayed, the ladder landed against a piece of conduit and stopped tipping so that I could safely slide down the rope to the floor!

Do you need help? It is just a "call" away. I challenge you to make it a daily discipline to seek God's help through prayer.

Imagine what your life would be like if you regularly admitted your need and cried out to God. Peace would flood into your life and God's help would be evident. And maybe like me, you will discover God's control is much better!

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 10 a.m. Sundays in the cafeteria building of North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and 10 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter
@NormByers.
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