A Lesson in God Dependence From Sigmund Freud
“If youth knew; if age could.” Sigmund Freud
I try not to make it a habit of quoting Freud in this blog, but this statement has teeth. While there are a number of interpretations, I think Freud is lamenting the fact that the strength of youth and the wisdom of old age do not exist in the same person. I share his concern.
When I was growing up, my dad always had a building project around the house. At any given time, we were adding an addition to the house, erecting a building in the yard, putting a new roof on the house, or laying concrete—for some future project. My brother and I provided the brute strength; my dad provided the brains and coordination.
On one of our many projects, I decided to perfect the art of driving a nail. I was inspired by a scene from the movie Karate Kid (that tidbit alone will date me). In the scene, Ralph Macchio was driving nails with a single hit from the hammer. It seemed like a “manly” thing to do. I wanted to try.
I would tap a nail into place, concentrate as best I could, and then try to hit the nail as hard as I could. In my mind, the nail was driven flush because it was hit extremely hard. I tried and tried and tried and tried and tried again. Some nails bent; others flew off the board; none were driven flush with the surface.
I don’t know how long I tried (or how many nails I bent in the process), but my dad was watching from a distance. He came over and said something really simple. “It’s not about hitting the nail harder; it’s about letting the hammer do the work.” Interesting concept.
In case you’re wondering, I never perfected the art of driving a nail with one hit. I did learn the mechanics of using a hammer. Where you grip the hammer, the amount of wrist you put in each hit, allowing the weight of the hammer to do the work—all play a major part in performance. I tried to muscle nails into place (in the beginning) because I had something to prove; my dad just used a hammer correctly because he understood how a hammer works.
“If youth knew; if age could.”
Take that thought, and let’s drop it into something that matters. In the past several days, a number of passages have stood out in my devotional time. Pay attention to the words in bold print.
Psalm 124:8, “Our help is from the Lord…”
Proverbs 16:20, “…those who trust the Lord will be joyful.”
2 Samuel 22:33-51 (excerpts), “God is my strong fortress…He makes me as surefooted as a deer…he trains my hands for battle…You have given me your shield of victory; your help has made me great…You have made a wide path for my feet…You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet…You have placed my foot on their needs…You have me victory over my accusers. You preserved me as the ruler over nations…You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents…You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed…”
The theme through each passage is that God is doing the work. God is the One protecting, preserving, helping, loving, working, subduing, training, and providing victory. We are to trust in Him. Our help is from the Lord. While we can see the theme in Scripture, we still try to work in our own strength.
You can hear self-effort in so many things Christians say…
- “Do something big for God.”
- “I want to build a great church.”
- “I need to fix my marriage.”
- “Starting tomorrow, I will conquer this sin.”
- “If I just had more discipline, things would be better.”
- “You need to do something to fix the problem.”
I know that silent contemplation is not in vogue in our fast-paced society, but listen to the words of those who have gone before us. “Our help is from the Lord…” God is our help. He is our strength. He gives us wisdom. He fights our battles. He protects our heart. He conquered all sin. He lives righteousness through us. He opens doors that no one can open. The king’s heart is in His hand. He is our everything.
What are you trying to accomplish through brute strength today? God is in the process of teaching us dependence upon Him. He wants us to rely on Him. Age says, “I will trust in God;” youth says, “Starting tomorrow, I can do it.”
Are you living from the perspective of age or youth?
***To receive email updates of this blog, go to the home page and subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Paul’s Blogs” section. If the posts have been helpful to you, please share them with others. Thank you.