A wise person pointed out to me recently that when I struggle with something in my spiritual life and then say, 'I'm going to sort this out', I'm not. I can't. I never will.
It will never be me that sorts it out. I can do nothing without you. Every little half-formed desire I have to please you comes from you initially. Every time I take a step forward it's because you have hold of my hand and you're not only leading me and showing me where to put my feet but you're giving me the power to walk in the first place.
Just as, 'I can do all things through him who gives me strength' (Philippians 4:13), without that strength, I can do nothing. I didn't even find you by myself:
'For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...'
It's so easy to fall into thinking that I can do it. Any of it. From the smallest little breakthrough to life-changing things. So easy to imagine that me making an effort might actually bring me a step or a leap closer to you; a few feet higher on the mountain. I can do nothing without you. I thought there was somewhere in the Bible that St Paul says this but I can't find it at the moment so I'll just say it myself.
I can't do this without you.
I can try; I can try my hardest. I can read and think and listen to sermons and learn from other people and from experience and I can pray (now there's an idea - why didn't I think of that?) and that's about the limit of it for me. Only you can supply the power, the faith, whatever it takes to get anywhere. Without that vital ingredient I stay where I am. Static. A seed without the water and the sunlight.
We know more and more about our universe, and we know more and more about ourselves - how our bodies work. We can do amazing things these days in medicine but we cannot bring to life something that is dead. We cannot create, animate. We can try, but we fail. Only you can do that. In the same way nothing that I want to learn, unlearn, do, make, change or understand can come to life and bear fruit unless you breathe life into it. Someone once said to me that if you forgot about me for one millisecond, then I would cease to be. Maybe that's true, I don't know. But I do know that I am here because you made me, I live because you want me to, I am not lost because you came to find me and I know you because you made yourself known.
It was never me and it never can be.
So I ask you for wisdom, and understanding. For insight that will help me not make the same mistakes over and over. For forgiveness for all the times when I start to believe that it's in my control after all and I can manage. Even with the best of intentions, when I tell you earnestly that I will do better. That I will learn from things. I can't do any of it without you. I can't even hold on while the waves wash over me without you. Without you I'd have nothing to hold on to - and no strength to hold on anyway.
Lord, I'm sorry that I make it all about me.
'Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?'
Yes. Over and over again, I think. I'm sorry. It sounds as if this is a well-worn path.
Thankyou for the wise person who reminded me about this.
Thankyou that you care enough to set me straight.
Thankyou that you don't hold it against me when I take my eyes off you and start looking inward too much.
Thankyou that there's always another chance.
As Paul says, I began with the Spirit and I want to carry on that way. And the reason I want to carry on with the Spirit is because I want to get somewhere. Not just round in circles.
Come, Holy Spirit. Sort me out, will you?