You Can’t Do This Life On Your Own

            So far this year, I have been writing about what Jess and I have been reading each week. We have spent the past twelve days in Deuteronomy. As I shared last week, Deuteronomy is just rehashing everything that has happened to the Israelites, starting with their escape from Egypt, and going over the Law again. If I’m being totally honest, we’re looking forward to finishing that book and heading into the Promised Land with Joshua. Instead of writing about something that we read this week, I want to go back to a story from the book of Exodus that I didn’t have the chance to write about yet. 

            In Exodus 17, Moses was leading the Jews through the desert. They had stopped at a place called Rephidim to set up camp for a few days. While they were there, the Amalekites come out and attacked them. This was the first time that Israelites had to go to war on their journey. Moses devised a two-part plan as to how to handle this. First, he told Joshua to get some men ready to into battle the next day. Secondly, Moses decided that he would hold the ‘staff of God’ (the one that changed into a snake in Egypt and parted the Red Sea) up in the air as they fought. 

            The two sides clashed. As long as Moses held the staff in the air, the Israelite army was winning. Whenever he brought his arms down to rest, the Amalekites were victorious. What Moses had to do for his people to win the fight was pretty straightforward: he had to keep his arms raised and hold the staff high. The problem that he faced was that he would grow tired.

Take a moment and hold your arms straight up in the air. It probably won’t be long before you’re going to want to put them down. Now, imagine that your people were dying if you lowered them. That’s the situation that he was facing. What was Moses to do? Clearly, he couldn’t physically hold the staff up the whole time, but his people would die and lose the battle if he took a break. 

This was just a few days into their exodus from Egypt. Did they come that far only to be captured by another country and made slaves? This was quite the conundrum for the God-appointed leader of the Jews. Moses had to learn a lesson that I think all of us need to learn today: he couldn’t do it on his own.

            Alongside Moses was his brother Aaron and a man named Hur. When the two other men saw that Moses was struggling, they stepped up and helped.

When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up— one on one side, one on the other— so that his hands remained steady until sunset. So, Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Exodus 17: 12-13

            Moses couldn’t do it on his own. If he hadn’t had help, he and the Israelites would have failed and been defeated. Who knows what would have happened if the Amalekites won the battle? The good news (unless you were an Amalekite) was that because Moses surrounded himself with people who would support him in a time of need, it’s not something that happened. 

            Just like Moses, we cannot do this on our own. In fact, we were designed by God to never go about our faith walk by ourselves. We were made in his image (Gen. 1:27), and God has always lived in a holy community. This is known as the Trinity and is one of the core tenets of Christianity. From the beginning, it has been God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They have always simultaneously existed as one— while still being three separate beings. It’s a bit confusing. Regardless, one of the ways that we are created in the image of God, the Imago Dei for our Latin speakers, is that we are meant to live in a community as well. 

            This is one of the most important aspects of our faith, but it often gets ignored. We think that we can do this on our own. We allow our pride to tell us that we are sufficient on our own. That has never been the case, nor will it ever be. There will be times in your life when you will need to rely on others. Sadly, we have come to see not being able to do it on our own as a weakness. In all actuality, trying to do the Christian life on your own goes against what the Bible teaches us. 

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there I (Jesus) am with them.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

I could go on and on.

            You were not made to live out your faith by yourself. It goes against the very way in which God created you. You need others. You need friends like the ones that Moses had. You need people to lift you up when you are growing tired and weary from doing what God has called you to do. You need folks who will encourage and hold you accountable. Trying to live out the Christian life alone is a dangerous thing; it will lead to trouble. I guarantee that it will cause you to stumble and fall. 

We need to seek out others who will be willing to walk alongside us, and us alongside them, as we all figure out our faith journey together. You were created for community. If you don’t have one, go seek one out. You will find that it will change your life and take you to new heights in your faith.  

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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