“I can’t help you, I can’t do anything for you, unless you let me.”

That is so often what a parent has to say to a child.

     A parent knows the way of life, because he has walked it before.  He knows the dangers and the perils and the pitfalls and the temptations.  He would like above all things to help his child, but so often the child takes his own way and follows his own counsel, and the parent is left wistfully saying, “I can’t help you, unless you let me.”

 That is so often what the teacher has to say to the pupil.

     There are things that the teacher would like to do for the pupil; there is teaching and guidance and instruction which the teacher would like to give.  The teacher knows at least sometimes that out of some pupil he could make a real scholar.  But the pupil will not accept advice, will not concentrate, will not study, will not apply himself as he could.  And the teacher is left regretfully saying, “I can’t help you, unless you let me.”

 Sometimes that is what a doctor has to say to a patient.

     The doctor in his knowledge knows that, if the patient is to be cured, certain treatment must be given, a certain discipline must be accepted, certain things must be done, and certain other things avoided or maybe a certain operation is necessary.  But the patient refuses to take the prescribed medicine, fails to keep to the correct diet, will not undergo the required treatment.  And all that the doctor in the end can say is, “I can’t help you, unless you let me.”

 This is what God must always be saying.

     It may be that the greatest mystery of all is the mystery of the freedom of the will.  God cannot, however force His will upon us.  God cannot force his guidance upon us.  God cannot compel us to accept His way, His love, His grace.  So again and again God is saying to His self-willed children, “I cannot help you, unless you let me.”

     As Jesus came into Jerusalem in the last week of His life, He looked down on the city and said, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her winds – and ye would not!”  (Matt. 23:37).

      The first necessity of Christianity is submission, and unless we make that submission, God is left saying in sorrow, “I cannot help you, unless you let me.”

                                                                                                      William Barclay

                                                                                             From Daily Celebration


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