I grew up in a family where we learned to help people.  I remember all of the ways that my parents reached out to build bridges with neighbors and offered help to people in need.  What I don’t remember is letting people know that we had problems and that we needed their help.  Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but it sure can set you up for some lopsided relationships.  It also can give people the message that we’re fine but that you could use our help.  You can even load up Bible verses to rationalize endless giving and conclude with “and that’s what Jesus did.”  

When you look closer at Jesus’ words and ways, I see and hear invitations.  “Come to me.”  “Ask and it will be given to you.”  “Ask anything in My Name.”  In fact, Jesus taught us that apart from Him, we can’t do anything.  Since we know that life only works when we’re securely attached and connected to Jesus, the Vine, why is so hard for us to ask the Lord for help?  Why do we sometimes try everything else and fail until we finally turn to Jesus?  Is it because we’re stubborn?  Is it our pride?  Is it our independent spirit?  Since we’re made to depend upon God, why is it so hard to trust Him and let Him provide help and answers and resources when we need it?  Maybe we tell God the same thing that we tell people who offer us help.  “I’m good.”  “I’ve got this.”  In other words, “I don’t need You or Your help.”

Asking people for help can open a huge can of ______________.  Exactly.  We have no idea what will or won’t happen.  In fact, in order to ask for help, we first have to be vulnerable and let people know our struggles.  We have to invite them into our pain and problems before we can ask them for help.  Asking for help sets us up for vulnerability and needing to trust one another to listen, care, show up, and do something.  If that sounds uncomfortable and risky or if it could make things worse, then I’m out.  

Wait a minute.  That sounded awful.  Who wrote that?  Where’d that come from?  I’m just being vulnerable.  I can’t tell you how often we’ve tried to reach out and help people who say, “I’m fine.”  “I’ve got this,” yet we know that they’re not fine.  They just don’t let people close enough or ask them for help.  They just give help.  It’s really hard when you’re on the other side of the fence and people won’t let you help.  It’s lopsided.  It’s equally lopsided when we don’t open up the gate and let others in to help.  It’s hard to trust people and ask for help because we have no clue what will happen.  You can’t go through life without getting burned, so why ask for help?  Right?  Wrong.

God’s design for relationships is that we practice interdependence and reciprocal giving.  I talk while you listen.  You talk while I listen.  I ask for help, and you provide it.  You ask for help, and I provide it.  What I lack, God uses you to provide.  What you lack, God uses me to provide.  More than half of the time, God answers our prayers through people.  Sometimes that’s you and sometimes that’s me.  You may believe me and quickly agree, or you may be ready to start an argument with me and cite example after example of lopsided relationships and tell me to get my head out of the clouds.  

People with damaged trust aren’t very good at being vulnerable and asking for help.  People have damaged trust because they’ve been hurt, and they’ve learned that people aren’t trustworthy.  People who don’t let others in and who don’t ask for help seem to be controlling, or they may appear to have it all together.  But we all know that it’s not true.  We know that we are made to trust God and to be interdependent with one another, but what do you do when life doesn’t go the way that God designed it to go?  

What does God do?  He lets us faceplant while He orchestrates us getting to places where we’re desperate and we have to ask God and people for help.  Why?  Because He wants to restore us.  Part of God’s process of healing and restoring us is sending people whom He’s called and designed to help us.  When we get desperate and pray, God has a way of sending us the most unlikely characters when we need help the most.  The only way to describe it is a miracle.  When you start writing down and thanking God and the people that He has sent your way to help, He engages you in a process of restoring your trust and connecting you with people and opportunities that bring healing and so much more.

What I’ve discovered is that people can only help us if we let them get to know that we’re struggling.  Being vulnerable may feel incredibly uncomfortable, but it allows God to show off and allows caring people to love, serve, and give according to their God-given design.  That’s God’s design for the body of Christ.  We speak the truth in love.  We ask for help.  We discover a need and respond, and before you know it, we’re all working together to help one another.  When each of us do our part, the whole body of Christ starts maturing, and we start loving the way that God made us to love.  Each one of us loves according to our design, and when we live in each other’s preferences, it works.  Not only does it give us a God-story to tell, it also proves a powerful witness to all those who are watching.  

When was the last time that you asked God for help?  What happened?  When was the last time that you asked someone to help you?  What happened?  Asking the right questions may open the door for you to become the answer to someone’s prayer.  Asking for help may allow a caring person to be God’s answer for the help that you need.  It’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to give and receive help.  When it works, it’s beautiful, and God gets the glory.  When it doesn’t work, don’t shut down or build a case against God or people or asking for help.  Instead, keep asking until God provides for your need.  What we want and what we need are oftentimes very different.  

God, I thank you for all of the ways that you have helped me and my family.  Thanks for sending help even when I didn’t ask for it.  Thank you for all of the Jesus-with-skin-on people who have made the Kingdom taste, look, and feel better.  Thanks for giving us loving people who have been an answer to our prayers.  Please bless them and help me to live to be a blessing to those around me.  Life only works when we respond to Your nudges and give in ways that make a difference.  Help us to ask and keep on asking.  Seek and keep seeking until we find Your provisions.  Lord, teach us to love and become the answer to someone’s heartfelt prayer.  I ask in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.   

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