Episode 1. My Lord, My Helper
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Wherever I’ve worked, what I’ve discovered is that the best sort of boss is the one who helps you. Sure – they’re the boss – but they help you crash through problems and figure out …
Every now and then, you and I have a rush of blood to the head, and we decide to go it alone. Yeah! But it generally doesn’t take us all that long to realise that going alone, is exhausting. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that so many people are so tired.
Beginning of another week. Beginning of another week. This is no drill. Isn’t it amazing how time marches on? Nothing you can do about that. You can’t roll it back. You can’t do a fast-forward to skip the bits we don’t like. Every Monday morning it’s, well, it’s Monday morning. That’s it. Nothing, absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.
A close friend of mine, Graham, turned 70 the other day. He was a Colonel in the army when I was a Captain serving under him. And then we formed an IT consulting firm together with a third guy. And when we did that way back in 1988 Graham was a year younger than I am now.
And as I was writing his birthday card recently I stopped to think back on what incredibly hard work it had been starting off this consulting company. The 3 of us left the army, none of us had ever run a business or worked in the private sector and those first 5 to 7 years we had to carve something new out of a coalface.
We had to develop experience and develop a client base and develop a company from scratch. There were months when we couldn’t pay ourselves. There were times when we didn’t know whether we’d survive. They were a tough few years. And then, when it grew and became successful, it was even hard work maintaining that success. You’re only as good as your last job in the consulting game but there was one thing, one thing that made it all tolerable and that one thing was Graham.
Funny thing, I was a fresh-faced young Captain working for Graham, a Colonel in the army, but we somehow hit it off, just kind of clicked. So when he invited me into this new venture after we’d all left the army I jumped at it. Ultimately Graham, our other partner, he be the Major, Mark, and I were three equal shareholders in this consulting firm. We owned it.
But we made Graham the managing director or the CEO if you will. And there was a reason for that, he was the oldest, 20 years my senior and he was the smartest. Graham had and still has a wisdom that I value very highly.
When I read the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament a lot of it’s about wisdom. Passages like this one, Proverbs chapter 3 beginning at verse 13:
Happy are those who find wisdom and those who get understanding for her income is better than silver and her revenue better than gold.
See, when I read passages like that I think of Graham’s wisdom. He took a hold of me when I was in my late 20’s, smart as a button, lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm, but frankly a bit immature, a bit green. I had a lot to learn. And Graham took it upon himself to teach me for the next 17 years or so. He was my mentor and I, in effect, was his deputy, his under study.
It took me a while to realise that but without him doing what he did for me I wouldn’t be who I am today, it’s as simple as that. But here’s the thing, even though he was the oldest, even though he was the smartest, even though we made him the boss if you like, even though he was the Colonel and I’d been the Captain, even though he was a strong leader, he made those tough early years tolerable by being our servant.
He didn’t sit on high and push memos and edicts out the door, he put his nose to the grindstone and he pushed harder than just about anyone I’ve ever known.
Now why am I telling you this? Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been looking at how tired, how exhausted we all get in life and what to do about it, how to enter God’s rest. And we’re continuing again with that same theme this week on the program.
And this week I want to get down to the nitty-gritty of how to enter into God’s rest. How, actually, to live a life where we’re not physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted ’cause that’s what a lot of people are, exhausted. What we need so often in life is help: help not just in doing what we have to do, as important as that is, but also help in improving things; help in dealing with things and coping with things and making things better and changing things for the better; help in learning how to improve, to behave differently, to react differently, because all those things make a difference, a huge difference to our lives.
When we get things right, irrespective of the pressures that we’re living under, we can have rest. If we don’t, if we’re angry all the time or touchy, if we take things personally all the time, then we’re going to be exhausted.
And when I started off in this fledgling IT consulting firm way back in 1988, the last thing I expected was to get a mentor like Graham to teach me those things in life. And he imparted his wisdom into my life through the things we experienced together; through the conflict situations in client organisation; through the financial pressures; dealing with staff; planning for the future. All those experiences he used, very carefully, to teach me his wisdom. What an incredible blessing! And one that I didn’t expect from the Colonel, the boss.
Now I guess that brings me to the point of today’s message. The same mentorship and guidance and help are something that God promises us over and over and over and over and over again in His Word. Some of the feminists get a bit upset when in Genesis chapter 2, verse 18, it says about Eve, the woman, that she was Adam’s helper.
Because we have this wacky hierarchical view of the world that puts the helper below the one being helped on the old totem pole, don’t we? What would you say if I told you that throughout the Old Testament when this word ‘helper’ is used by far the most common usage is in terms of God being our helper? Psalm 54, verse 4:
But surely God is my helper. The Lord is the upholder of my life.
Jesus was very specific about wanting to be our helper. Matthew chapter 11 beginning at verse 28:
Come to me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens for I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you’ll find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy, my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
See, the picture of two oxen yoked together pulling a load. What the farmer did, he would always yoke a young inexperienced ox with an older, more mature one who knew the drill, who could teach the younger one.
Imagine God’s own Son, the creator of the universe, the King of kings, the Lord of lords saying to you, saying to me, in affect, ‘So things are tough hey? Well come and do it my way. Come on, let me teach you and show you how. I’ll put my shoulder into it. I’ll use all that I am and all that I have to lighten your load. It will be much easier that way and you will discover rest for your souls.’
We never ever expect God to be our helper. He’s way up there and we’re down here in the pecking order. But the reason I told you the story about Graham and how he impacted my life is that I think it’s the best way to explain what Jesus is talking about here.
Except that instead of having a fallible man doing the mentoring and the helping and the serving, Jesus is talking about God Himself doing that for us. So every trial, every tribulation, every tough spot, every tight corner, every pothole in the road, every situation that exhausts us is our opportunity to say, ‘Hang on, there’s a different way of handling this. I don’t have to be scared. I don’t have to be upset or angry. All those things are exhausting. There’s a bold practical promise from the Son of God that if I get myself yoked up alongside Him that it will be much easier. Even though I’m pulling this heavy load that God would be my helper, guiding me as to which direction I should go in, how fast I should walk. And then putting His shoulder to the wheel and pushing in the same direction as me.
Now that … that is rest.