Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jump Start

A few nights ago I was up fairly late talking with a friend at my office. He was having a difficult time so we exchanged some stories and advice. When we realized that we had been talking for a couple hours, and that our wives were probably wondering where we were, we decided to call it a night. He said goodbye and left my office. A few minutes later my friend was back.

“Do you have any jumper cables?” he asked. I replied that I didn’t, at least not there. It turned out that my friend had left a light on inside his car while we had talked, just long enough to prevent the engine from turning over. After unsuccessfully considering some alternative solutions, I offered to go home and get my cables.

Rather than come with me, my friend chose to remain in his car. Home was not far away, so the return trip only took a few minutes. My suspicion that my wife would be waiting, however, was correct. I felt she was entitled to an explanation before I turned around to help my friend, so I was delayed a few extra minutes.

Not long afterward, hoods were up, jumper cables where mounted, and I started my engine. It didn’t take much to get him started. A little gas pedal and he was good to go. Sometimes that’s all a friend needs – a little boost.

We all get down from time to time. I don’t think there are many exceptions. But, during those times, it’s nice to know you have a friend. It’s good to know someone else carries a charge when you don’t. The night may seem a little darker when you lack power, but a friend can certainly turn things around. I like being that friend.

It seems easier to ask for help to jumpstart a car than it is to admit that you might need a jumpstart yourself. At least it is for me. But occasionally I’ll have a more discouraging moment when a friend is not available to lift me up. It’s on those occasions that I inevitably turn to Father in Heaven and admit that I need some cables. I need some connection to greater strength. That strength can come through prayer.

Prayer is literally the connection between us and an all-powerful Father in Heaven. He listens. He has answered my prayers and has given me strength when I’ve really needed help. Every time I have asked, He has been there for me. Sometimes, like my friend, I have to wait for Him to answer. I don’t believe it is because He is trying to make me suffer. Rather, it’s more than likely that He is helping me to refocus my attention on Him. If not I may dismount my cables too quickly and find that I can’t keep a charge. But when I stay focused on our relationship, and I’m grateful for it, there is a constant current of energy that flows into my life. It allows me to do more than I could on my own.

Most of the time when I lose my charge, it’s because I have left a light burning. I have been neglectful and I spend my energy where I shouldn’t have. Father knows our hearts. He is even patient and forgiving when our squandery is deliberate. All he asks is that we turn to him and acknowledge his hand in all things. Then, when we ask for help, he expects us to stay focused on what he has asked.

I have learned for myself that spiritual jumper cables are not meant to be used only in times of emergency. If I want to keep a charge, I use my cables daily, morning and night, and frequently in between. Acknowledging that we need His help is not weakness. It’s humility. And that is the key to a good start.

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