At our birth conference a couple of weeks ago, our midwife* asked Daryl if he wanted to help catch the baby when it’s born.
His face went white.
“Well, I… I mean… I would love to… It’d be really amazing, but what if… what if I…”
“Drop it?” she asked.
“Um, yeah,” he said, sheepishly.
“I’m not going to leave the room and let you do it alone,” she said. “You can catch the baby and my hands will be right underneath your hands the whole time. I will help you the whole way.”
He visibly relaxed. “Oh wow,” he said, “then I’d love to do it!”
There’s a line in Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress” that goes: “Our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing…” It’s a reminder that God is our helper, present even when we face overwhelming surges of evil, fear, stress, exhaustion, grief, motherhood, you name it.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t often think of God as my helper. I think of myself as God’s helper. Our church even has t-shirts that say, “On a mission for the Master.” I read Scripture and find tasks I am to do, ways I am to live, actions I am to undertake.
The helper position seems subordinate. I’m happy helping God, but letting him help me? That seems wrong somehow. Don’t want to do inconvenience the Almighty, after all…
But God doesn’t send us out like soldiers in the army. He doesn’t wind us up and set us loose. He goes with us – behind us and before us and on every side. We never have to be alone. We never have to take on a task alone. We never have to breathe a single breath alone.
After a sermon on Luke 9:18-22, the passage where Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, Daryl gave our congregation a few moments to reflect on two identity statements.
The first was: “Jesus, you are my…”
The second was: “Jesus, I am your…”
I didn’t get past three seconds of meditation on the first statement before tears sprang to my eyes. The first word that came to my mind was helper. I saw the image of our midwife’s hands cupping Daryl’s to help him deliver our baby. Jesus, you are my helper. King of the Universe, Messiah, Rescuer, Lord of all. Helper.
I’m often paralyzed by fear like Daryl was in that birth conference. What if God has given me a task to do and I mess it up? What if I fail? What if I drop the baby?!
Yet God promises that because of who he is we are never left on our own. That his hands are always below ours to help, to catch, to carry, to lift.
Anne Lamott says that her most common two prayers are “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” For all my theological training, I need to go back to these basics. Not just when I’m in over my head, but in every minute of every day.
What about you?
Help me, Jesus.