For many reasons we tend to rely on ourselves. If you take a tour of the bookstore you will see hundreds of "self-help" books lining the shelves. Reliance on our own efforts to improve and empower our minds can be quite admirable to be sure. However, I have found that reliance on self in many situations can lead to exhaustion. We toil and struggle and devote great amounts of time and energy and money, only to find ourselves even worse off than when we started. This leads to frustration and, ultimately, to surrender. I have lived this type of life for a long time. However, Jesus made it clear that we are not to live life isolated and alone. He spent his public life surrounded by his trusted twelve disciples. He sent his disciples out into the world two by two to spread the gospel. Traveling through life with others, relying on others, can lead to a strengthening of spirit that is impossible through reliance on self alone.
I have just finished reading Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin and it was one of my favorite books of 2009. It is a story of life lived in failure and surrender alone to be rewritten in victory by walking in brotherhood. It is a story filled with honesty and openness and brokenness and failure. A story then rewritten by connecting with others, that leads to renewal, growth, and victory. Those who have read other books on Christian brotherhood, whose message quickly desolved into the aether after the cover was closed, should appreciate this story of sinner saints and the impact they can have on us castaways and hermits.
(Part 2 of 2)