You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. Matthew 5:3 MSG
When is the last time you “tapped out”?
If you’re not familiar with the term, to “tap out” simply means to give up. If you’re an MMA fighter, and you’re stuck in some inhumane choke hold and you can’t take it anymore, you tap your opponent to indicate that you’re done.
A few weeks ago I went under the MRI machine to see what was keeping some of my nerves from firing the right way. Monique, my tech, told me it would take about an hour. I opted for the ear plugs and no music—huge mistake. She slid me under the machine and the pounding of the rotating magnet began. I looked up and all I could see was the white tube about a foot from my head. I have to lie still for an hour? There’s no way I can make it.
Help me, Jesus. I started to pray. Slow down your breathing. Relax. Get ahold of yourself. Don’t be so soft. And then I started to pray scripture.
“Don’t be anxious about anything.” I presented my requests to God, but I was anxious.
“Since then you have raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” I felt that my life was hidden with Christ, but I felt like I was being buried alive.
I kept praying. And then this peace came over me, I relaxed and made it through the test.
No. I tapped out. I had only been in for about 10 minutes.
“I’m so sorry, Monique. You’re gonna have to give me something to get me through this. There’s no way I can make it through this.”
A little jazz in my headphones and some Ativan in my IV and I made it through. And when I would come back the next day for another two hours in the tube, I would get the good stuff on the front end.
So what’s the point? Prayer doesn’t work. Ativan 1, Jesus 0?
How many times have you prayed in the middle of something really hard? And your prayer wasn’t answered. You didn’t feel the peace that you felt like you were promised. Don’t be afraid to go there. Don’t be afraid to admit it—no matter how strong you think your faith is, no matter how long you’ve been following Jesus, not matter how lofty your position in the church.
Sometimes you just have to tap out. Now here’s what I mean by that. Sometimes you have to give up and say, “I have no control over this situation.” My own resources—even my prayers, my scripture memory, my faith—are not enough. I am at the end of my rope.
And then science and technology to the rescue? Well, yes and no. Do you believe that God can work through medicine? I do. Maybe God’s answer to my prayer was simply, “You don’t have to prove anything, my child, just surrender and receive. I will care for you. I know what is best. You don’t have the strength to handle this thing the way you want to. I will give you what you need in the way that you need it.”
That would not be the last time I would have to tap out.
But here’s what God is teaching me. Surrender is a good thing, not a bad thing.
Here’s how it works. When you’ve tapped out and you’re at the end of your rope, you give God some room to talk. Here’s how I experienced that reality this week.
I stopped asking for things from God and began thinking with him. I stopped praying “Help me, Jesus” prayers for a minute and I just started worshipping. A dear friend put together a playlist of worship songs for me—one that had been prayed over and compiled with some others, one that included current songs, worship choruses we used to sing in FCA from the 90s, some hymns, and some of my personal favorites.
In the middle of the night, I would listen, pray, and sing. It kind of all ran together and it was beautiful. Sometimes my pain would go away. Sometimes it didn’t. I cried a lot. Not because I was sad, but because I felt the love of Jesus. I felt the love of my wife and my kids. I felt the love of my church and my friends.
When I worshipped, I felt that God was with me. I know all the attributes of God that make him worthy of my worship. I can articulate the propositional truths about the character of God that describe his glory. I know enough to think intelligently about God. I can quote a bunch of scripture. These are all good things.
But in these moments, broken, tapped out, I simply experienced the love of the One who says, “Look, you’re a dad. You would do anything for your kids. You know that kind of love. Well, that’s great. But you’re messed up and broken. Your love for your kids is just a glimpse of the love I have for you. I will give you exactly what you need. I will give you the Holy Spirit to remind you that you are my child and I will never let you go. I am with you now. I will be with you forever. You are loved.”
Don’t be afraid to tap out and let God show you how much He loves you.
Jesus, I’m at the end of my rope and I’m open to receive.
Read Luke 11:1-13