“Hurry, Christine! Grab that net over there and help me land this beauty!”
My dad had invited me along ice fishing so I could enjoy the smooth skating surface we’d been blessed with that winter. The bay ice stretched for miles, and I took full advantage of this almost endless rink. But now my dad was struggling with an exceptionally large fish on the end of a taut line.
I knew enough about using a net, but this small hole in the ice created a different challenge, especially balancing on ice skates. As my father eased his catch to the surface, I slid the rim of the landing net nearer to the water… and knocked the hook right out of the fish’s mouth!
I know my father had every right to yell, “You should be thankful I’m not blaming you for ruining my day!” Even so, his silence spoke volumes. I was properly apologetic, but I knew in my heart it didn’t make up for my mistake. Fortunately there was a string of fish he’d already caught, so we didn’t return home empty handed, no thanks to me. But the memory of that huge fish disappearing beneath the ice into the inky blackness dampened my spirits.
How often we utter that word without thought, sometimes in derision. What should be a happy, grateful word can lose all of its joy when used against someone: “No thanks to you!” “You should be thankful that …”
Sometimes we really do mean to stop people from helping: “No thanks!” Unfortunately, despite our refusal of their offer, they jump in and “help” anyway, creating a mess we have to straighten out.
At other times we firmly refuse offers to help. We take on the whole load because we want to be SURE it is done right or that it achieves the perfection we envision.
As leaders of a company, an organization, or a family, we have the responsibility, the expectation, to see that everything turns out right. We know we’ll blame ourselves if it doesn’t. And because of that worry, that guilt, we hesitate to accept offers to help.
Is it our pride that convinces us that we are the only one who can do it? Are we so unsure of the competency of those on our team or in our family that we don’t dare trust them? Or are we just determined to see something through ourselves even if we don’t have the time or energy, taking on one more thing in our already overloaded life?
Why do we refuse help? If we’re honest with ourselves, we might admit we just don’t want to give someone else credit, share the spotlight. Maybe we don’t want to be in a position of being grateful, thankful to someone to whom we might then be indebted.
These days I find myself more and more questioning my refusals for help. I humble myself and accept the fact that it would be nice to not carry the whole load. I do appreciate the offer. And yes, “Thank you!”
I have learned to let people help and not to be an exhausted martyr. I’ve allowed others to contribute food for a large gathering instead of creating the “perfect” meal that will generate acclaim from my guests. I’ve let go of responsibilities that I’ve assumed are my exclusive expertise.
Too often we say, “No thanks!” to our Lord Jesus. We’re humming along in our life just fine, taking care of our company, our job, our family, ourselves. “No thanks, Lord! I’ve got this.”
But when we get into trouble or run into a wall, how quick we are to shout out in despair.
And what is our Lord Jesus’ response?
He doesn’t answer, “I’m going to save your soul, no thanks to you!” Considering the mess we make of our lives, He’d be more than justified in saying it though.
He doesn’t say, “You should be grateful I’m not giving you what you deserve!” even though what we truly deserve is not his mercy and forgiveness.
No. He says, “Call upon me!” (Isaiah 55:6) Absolutely! Our Lord Jesus will answer when we call in times of trouble. David assures us of that in the Psalms.
But He doesn’t just want our cries of desperation. He wants the “Call upon me!” personal relationship that Abraham had and that his son Isaac had when they “called upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 12:8; 26:25). He wants that ongoing closeness described in Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
So what can I offer in return? What can I do to show my appreciation?
My Lord Jesus doesn’t need my help. He really does have everything in hand, in His hand. He’s got all of the gifts to give, and He knows just how to give them even if I think I could do a better job of distributing them.
And when we want to “help out” with our salvation, when we think what we do will earn His thanks, His approval, His favor, make us more worthy to be saved …
The Lord says, “No thanks! I’ve got this!”
It’s true! No thanks to us, His grace and mercy endure.
Ah, there’s the reason for putting in my comment, my thanks. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:9). And in case I miss the point, He repeats that promise nineteen more times in the Scriptures!
Why would I ever refuse the everlasting, unfailing love of my Lord Jesus, this “indescribable gift” the Apostle Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 9:15? Of course I wouldn’t!
Instead I have just the answer for what the world has to offer in its place: “No Thanks!”
Leaving my guilt at the cross,
(First published at Lead Like Jesus September 2019)