The Truth About Relying On Ourselves

Photo taken by Tim Marshall

Written By Joseph Kolapudi, Australia

During a recent family vacation near a beach, I stumbled upon a picture-perfect stretch of sun, surf, and sand one day. Without an extra thought, I jumped into the water with my boogie board in tow. Realizing too late that the current was particularly strong, I felt myself being slowly drawn out to sea.

No matter how much I tried to fight the waves, the shoreline seemed to be getting further and further away, until all I saw was a blurred outline of the hands of my family members frantically waving in the distance.

Thankfully, a group of surfers spotted me. Noticing that I was in danger, they came over to help. One man in the group told me not to fight the current, but rather to ride out the waves to the shore. Noticing my hesitation, he abandoned his own board, grabbed hold of mine, and with a final push, made sure my board and I rode the final wave safe to shore.

Looking back on it all, I realize that I had misplaced confidence in myself. Though I thought I was perfectly okay, I was actually being dragged under by my own ignorance. If I had waited a second or two longer, I would have had little hope of making it safely back to land. Instead, I needed help from someone other than myself in order to make it safely back to where I belonged, to my family waiting for me on the other side.

When we listen to wrong advice or rely on our own wisdom—like I did while surfing—it can lead us down a road that we never intended, or never saw coming. Sometimes, it is the smallest of sins that divert us from the path of right living. I have a tendency of becoming easily distracted. If not, I allow busyness to stop me from speaking to God about what I’m struggling with. Sometimes, I even avoid spending time on things that matter. The easy access to technology can make this even more challenging. With social media at our fingertips, it doesn’t take much for us to become distracted from doing the right thing.

I have recently been reading from 2 Chronicles 10, which tells about the rise of Rehoboam, the son of King Solomon. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. Unfortunately, his wisdom wasn’t passed on to Rehoboam, who ended up making the wrong choice. Rehoboam turned against the older, wiser counselors who rightly advised him to be kind toward the people. Instead, he listened to his friends, who told him to be a harsh king.

What caused Rehoboam to reject perfectly good advice? Perhaps he trusted in his own judgement too much, thinking that he could do things his way and not suffer any consequence. Rehoboam’s choice to let his friends lead him astray resulted in the kingdom splitting into two, and he lost the majority of his kingdom to his rival.

Though it’s easy to judge Rehoboam for taking his friends’ foolish advice, let’s not forget that we are equally prone to do the same ourselves. We may seem like saints compared to the foolish and evil king; but measuring ourselves against God’s standard, we fall short every time.

As sinners, we often fail to listen to God’s voice, and instead choose our own way, and ignore what is best. We’re constantly drifting. We choose the wrong advice over right actions. We fail, hard. Before we know it, we are fighting against the never-ending tide of daily struggles, unable to resolve our own issues, or to deal with the consequences of our actions. When we rely on our own strength, we will find that our struggling is to no avail. Just like when I went surfing that one time. I kept trying by myself to swim back to shore, when I really needed someone else’s help. In life, too, we need the help of someone beyond us, who can make things right.

Sometimes, God extends His help to us by placing people in our lives to gently nudge us along the path that He has planned for our lives—to be there when we struggle, help us overcome our own obstacles, and to make us more aware of our need to trust Him.

Just like Rehoboam, we have a choice to make—we can make our own choices and rely on our own strength, or we can choose to follow God’s way. It is not simply doing good things or trying to be a good person. It is living in a way that pleases God by basing our confidence in Christ alone. When we trust him with the small things of life, such as simply finding the strength to get up each morning, we’d naturally seek him for bigger things in our lives, like finding our purpose. Through Him, we can have the right perspective on life, and this affects everything we do.

Things may not always work out in our favor, but whether we fail or succeed, God has promised that all things work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28), which involves obeying Him (John 14:15). Though we are prone to fail, let’s heed the advice Jesus gave to His disciples, to “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Even in the toughest of times, Jesus is always by our side, willing to make things right.

Only trusting in Jesus as our Savior can save us from the struggles of life, and lead us safe to shore.

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