Outrunning the Bear

May 01, 2012

Tuesday Re-mix – Anonymity Anonymous: Recovery from our Addiction to Self-reliance

Step 1: We admit we are powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable.

There’s an old joke about two guys out on a camping trip.  They are at their campsite and they spot a bear off in the distance.  They are watching it when it spots them and starts coming toward their campsite and then starts running toward their campsite!  One guy grabs his gun and starts loading it and grabbing extra ammunition.  The other guy grabs his tennis shoes and starts furiously lacing them up.  The first guy says, “Are you crazy!?  You’ll never outrun the bear!”  And the second guys says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear.  I just have to outrun you!”

In my addiction to self-reliance, i.e., my fear of being too transparent with my friends, i.e., my secret disdain for the type of “community” and interdependence described in the Bible, there is a perspective that “enables” my addiction.  It actually makes the addiction worse.  It is the perspective that I don’t really have to be as perfect as God desires me to be…I just have to be better than the guys around me.  It is an attitude that all but gives up on living the life God intends for me and stays content with living a life that looks pretty good when compared to lots of other people.  It is the attitude that says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear…I just have to outrun the guy next to me.”

You see, no matter how badly I mess up, I can always find someone else who messed up “worse” in my opinion.  And as long as I can feel like I’m doing better than most folks around me, I can convince myself that I’m good enough.  “Better than average” works fine for me.  And as long as that is the case, I don’t need anyone else’s help!  I can accomplish “better than average” all by myself!  In other words, if my standards are low enough, I am NOT powerless and my life is NOT unmanageable.

But what if the standard really is much higher?  What if God’s intention really is that I follow Him completely and that I commit to Him all the way?  What if I am not to be comparing myself to other people, but am to compare myself to Christ Himself?  What if my expectation really is to outrun the bear, and not just the guy next to me?  How in the world could I meet that expectation without a lot of help?  How would it ever be possible on my own?  It would not be!

When I lift my gaze a little higher and look up to Him and His Word for me…when I begin to realize the kind of life God really calls me to as a follower of Christ…when my “standard” becomes God-sized and my goals all become eternal, then I can see that I am a miserable failure.  I need help.  I need a community of believers who will walk with me and push me to become the man God calls me to become.  All it takes to see the truth about myself is the right plumbline…the right standard of measure.  If God’s Word becomes that standard, then step 1 in my recovery from my addiction to self-reliance comes into focus much more easily.  I truly am powerless on my own, and my life truly is completely unmanageable.

It’s all just a matter of perspective.

That is how I get to setp 1.  And you?  How do you get there?


© Blake Coffee
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