It happened again last night. I was in over my head – quite literally – and He saved me.
This time it was the smoke detector in my bedroom. I heard the first ominous “chirp” signifying the dying battery as I was contemplating what to have for dinner. And the process thereafter went something like this:
Step 1: Figure out which of the four detectors clustered in the bedroom hallway is chirping.
Step 2: Pray and ask God to reveal which one it is because I can’t figure it out. He answers, making it clear.
Step 3: Climb and stretch to twist it off the ceiling. The highest one in the highest ceiling, of course. In the dimming light of late afternoon. In the one bedroom without an overhead light. With a cat “helper” anxiously looking for a way to assist.
Step 4: Pray and ask God for protection. He answers. Throughout the entire event. And He reminds me that it would be wise to take my socks off so that the chair isn’t as slippery.
(Step 4 ½ : Remove socks.)
Step 5: Unsuccessfully attempt to unplug the smoke detector from the wires in the ceiling, taking care to not yank too hard or to step on the “helper”.
Step 6: Pray and ask God to help. He answers by reminding me that a little light on the subject would make it easier and that I have a flashlight on my nightstand a few feet away.
Step 7: Get down, grab the flashlight. Clamber back onto the chair and figure out how to hold the flashlight in position without the use of either hand so I can see what I am doing, reminding myself to not drop the flashlight on the helpful cat’s head. Remembering that prayer is more useful than a pep-talk, I pray that I don’t drop the flashlight on the helpful cat’s head. Or my toes. The cat leaves. He answered. And I managed to successfully juggle all pieces without ever dropping the flashlight. He answered.
Step 8: Successfully detach the smoke detector from the wires. I praise God for His help.
Step 9: Attempt to yank the little cap off the dying 9-volt battery. While balancing on the chair. With waning light. Pray and ask for help. He answers by reminding me that this part does not have to be done while balancing on the chair. Nor does it require the flashlight.
Step 10: While standing on solid ground, wrestle the cap off the battery and replace it with a new battery, praising God for His help.
Step 11: Climb back on the chair, dreading having to reattach the smoke detector to the wires. Attempt once or twice and then remember to pray. He answers. The third attempt works.
Step 12: Pray FIRST before attempting to reattach the whole thing to the ceiling, lining up the little pieces just right. It goes on the first time. And stays put. With no chirping to be heard. Praise God for His faithfulness in ALL things.
Step 13: Put away the flashlight and chair. Pet the cat. And remember to say, “Thank You” that all of this happened at 6 PM and not 2 AM.
People like to say, “God helps them who help themselves!”
And what they mean by that is, “We like it when people work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
But the biblical reality is that God helps those who realize they are helpless.
And in constant need of Him.
And His help is not just in the form of Saving Grace. Saving Grace is truly amazing. It stepped in, along with its sister, Mercy, when I deserved nothing but the wrath of God for my sin.
And Mercy put my punishment on Jesus. While Grace stood with open arms, inviting me to come into fellowship with God.
That is Saving Grace. And that is awesome.
But God also provides a different Grace.
A living, sustaining, “I-even-care-about-smoke-detectors” Grace. A daily Grace for even the things that are, at best, mundane. A Sustaining Grace.
The Grace that “delights in every detail of my life” (Psalm 34).
The Grace that is the Good Shepherd, “making me lie down in green pastures”, “leading me beside still water” and walking with me “through the valley of the shadow”. (Psalm 23)
The Grace that “directs my steps” as I “acknowledge Him in all my ways” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The Grace that put the coin in the fish’s mouth when Peter was stressed about paying taxes. (Matthew 17)
The Grace that sent ravens to feed Elijah by an ever-dwindling stream – and then sent him to a poor widow after that, who miraculously had her flour and oil perpetually replenished so that the prophet could be fed.(I Kings 17)
The Grace that “supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
The Grace that is personal.
And willing to be there for every need.
In every situation.
I just need to open my eyes to see it.
Remember to ask for it. Keep myself in constant communication and right standing with God, not allowing sinful choices to block our ongoing conversation. Reach out for it with every breath, every task, every conversation. Revel in it like the incredible gift that it is.
And say, “Thank You” for the millions of ways it is already in my life.
God does not help them that help themselves.
Because they don’t need Him to do so.
They are managing – or think they are – all on their own.
Instead, God helps the helpless.
Anyone who cries out to Him.
For items great or small.
And He answers.
I am so glad that God helps the helpless.
Because that most definitely includes me.