Looking to Yourself or Jesus Brings Failure or Hope

upward view of a rope with knot at end hanging down from a large tree

How many times in your life do you run into problems and trouble, ending up with no way out. You try all kinds of things to alleviate the situation but to no real avail. Yet in reality you can’t be free the state you are in as long as you keep looking to yourself. As you’ll see in the following narrative, it is only when you look to the One who is higher than you that you find the solution and victory.

From Dogs to Quicksand

The young woman ran wildly among the trees near the shore of the island in a frenzied attempt to escape a pack of wild dogs chasing her. After making a sharp turn to the left, she suddenly slipped into a patch of quicksand. Meanwhile the dogs picked up a new scent along the way, thankfully, and shifted their pursuit to another creature, which quickly began to run in the opposite direction. But the woman now had a new problem to deal with, and it was not waiting for her to figure out a solution.

Slowly but surely, the sand was pulling her in deeper and deeper.

All Efforts of Self-rescue Failed

At first, she thought it was not a serious problem, and began grabbing any nearby objects and branches. She quickly determined that this was pointless, since everything she pulled broke off or slid in with her. So she attempted to wade her way out, and even tried a light swimming maneuver. Both proved hopeless as her body became more engulfed in the thick, soft ground.

Since she had not seen anyone else around to help her, panic set in and loud screams emanated from her mouth.  

Photo by Ivan Lapyrin on Unsplash

Call of Desperation Was Heard

Meanwhile, the burly captain of a boat tied to a dock around the bend nearby had heard her shrieks. He dropped everything and ran as rapidly as he could to the place where she was trapped. He saw a large tree with sturdy branches hanging over the young woman, so he picked up some strong, thick rope lying not far from his location and quickly climbed the tree. He crawled cautiously out to the place right on top of where she was stranded. After securing the rope tightly, he made a crude loop for her to grab, and slowly began to lower it down.

By this time, the woman was at the point of utter desperation. While her arms thrashed about in sheer terror, she frantically looked around for something, anything, she could get her hands on—only to discover nothing anywhere nearby.

Feelings of doom and death flooded her mind as she began to give up hope.

Self-pity and Despair Set in

She thought about her husband she had recently married, and how he would handle the loss and emptiness after her departure. Her mood shifted to gloom as she brooded on the idea that she would never see the smiling faces of the children they would have had. There would be no home to spruce up for him or anyone else each day. In fact, there would be no more days to see anything, since she was sure her life was about to end.

She moaned loudly in hopelessness and agony as she realized that all prospects of rescue were gone. All she could think of was her terrible misery.

Suddenly, right above her head, a voice bellowed “Stop looking to yourself. Look up to me!”

“Stop Looking to Yourself and Look up to Me!”

The young woman looked left and right but saw no one. Thinking she was becoming delirious, she groaned louder. Again, the voice thundered: “Stop looking to yourself and look up to me!” The woman was more startled than anything else, as she turned her head around in all different directions. It wasn’t until she finally glanced upward that she noticed the rope dangling right beside her.

Photo by melodi2 from Freeimages.com

“Take the rope, put your arms in the loop, and lower it around yourself,” the captain hollered sternly. The woman grabbed hold of the line and pulled the loop under her arms and held onto the rope, while the captain used the leverage of another branch to slowly pull her up to the limb he was perched on.

“How can I ever thank you? I thought it was the end for me!” she exclaimed breathlessly as she sat beside him. “How in the world did you know I needed help?” The captain was silent while he helped the woman climb down the tree.

Then, as they walked back to his boat, he paused and remarked, “I heard your call in the beginning. I knew you couldn’t make it on your own. So I dropped everything and ran to where you were.”

With that, he motioned her to join him, saying “Come on, you can clean up, and then I’ll take you to the other shore.”

Do you today feel trapped like that young woman—not in quicksand, but in your own pain, desolation, and anguish? While trying to escape from one dangerous mishap, you end up stuck in another instead. And all too often, it is your last.

Looking to Yourself Leads to Failure

The problem is that you only keep your eyes on yourself and your circumstances, looking to yourself alone for the solution. You therefore end up struggling and trying all kinds of unsuccessful methods to get free from the bad situation that you are trapped in.

You leave God out of the picture, so your life becomes hopelessly lost. Eventually you reach a point of feeling like there is no one else around who could really help, and no way out.

A woman seated looking down with her hand over her face with a depressed appearance illustrative of what happens when you are looking to yourself for the solution
Photo by Baptista Ime James on Unsplash

Depression Yields to Admission of Defeat

Depression and despair set in and our outlook becomes grim. After one more desperate cry for help, you slump down defeated, and all but give up. You finally concede that your dilemma is greater than you are able to solve.

This is when you finally hear a voice from deep within your soul crying, “Stop looking to yourself and look up to Me!” Here is your solution. When you were looking to yourself alone, your bad situation had no hope of ending well.

Only when you look up to Jesus will you find the answer that will save your life.

Your Means of Hope and Rescue Are Right Above You

The means of rescue is hovering right above you, like it was with the young woman in this story—if you will only look up and not continue looking to yourself. As long as you stay focused on your dire condition, you will never be able to make your way out on your own. If you refuse to turn your eyes toward Jesus and depend on Him for your deliverance, you will continue to sink deeper in your sorrow.

When Jesus hears the desperate and sincere cries for help from our heart, like the captain of the boat did, He immediately comes to our aid.

Photo (modified by author) by Brian Wangenheim on Unsplash

Jesus Will Lift You Out When You Trust in Him

If you put your trust in Him, He will extract you from the mire and pull you up to a secure place. He will even clean off your filth. And not only that, He will also invite you to follow Him to the other shore. All of this He willingly does, even though we don’t deserve any of it.

Stop Looking to Yourself and Look up to Jesus

Do you find yourself running away from one problem, only to find yourself trapped in another, unable to find a way out? Have you been trying to free yourself, and all of your attempts have only made the predicament even worse? Then quit focusing on what you are going through and how you will solve it yourself. Look up to Jesus for your help instead. He is your only solution and He is listening for your call for help.

“…for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

He is lowering your rescue rope right now, waiting for you to stop looking to yourself and put your trust in Him, so He can deliver you from your difficulty.

[Additional image credits: Featured image (when applicable) Mstudio on Pexels; Opening photo by Matthew Maaskant on Freeimages.com]