When I Almost Drowned Myself
For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
Years ago, I observed an acquaintance who, due to unhealthy lifestyle, had a near-death experience. He subsequently became quite sanctimonious, preaching about how everyone else should live healthier lives. He’d seen the error of his ways and he was going to live differently. Only he didn’t. Anyone observing his behavior could see no difference at all. Behavior is hard to change, and the near-death experience didn’t seem to teach him anything.
I’ve been there. Several years ago, I was working on my broken boat lift. The part in need of fixing was underwater and so I had to hold my breath and submerge myself to get to it. While under water, I accidentally collapsed part of the lift on my feet, pinning me face down. There was no way I could get my feet free, but I did manage to arch my back and get my mouth above water just enough to call for my wife who came to my rescue.
I’d never though a lot about my own mortality, but it shook me a little. I was going to live differently from then on. Only I didn’t. I was soon back to living my way, which involved using and abusing pain medications. Right after the disaster, I was determined to recognize the fragility and brevity of life, changing my ways, but instead, I was soon back to the old life, believing that I could figure everything out on my own.
In my addiction, there was a part of me that thought even if I got caught, I was indispensable. I thought so much of myself, that I almost believed I was invincible. Nothing could touch me, and I was in control of my future. It wasn’t the boat lift incident that taught me otherwise. Rather, it was only in the painful consequences of my addiction that I began to learn to rely, not on myself and my way, but on God and his.
Self-sufficiency is the enemy of faith. Self-reliance says we don’t need God. It’s often only in our desperate need, when we can do nothing, that we learn to truly rely on God. While we find our security in our job, money, stability, or even other people, we rely on that which cannot save us. It’s only when we realize that everything we have comes from God, that we begin to have the proper perspective. When we believe we’re strong, we’re the most vulnerable. When we understand how truly frail we are, then we can learn to rely on God. Paradoxically, true strength comes only in embracing our weakness.