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Eric's Sunday Sermon; The Chasm Between Self and God

Updated on May 18, 2015

It takes thousand to build this little mound.

The termites seemingly struggle as a whole with no real sense of self. Man has a self.
The termites seemingly struggle as a whole with no real sense of self. Man has a self. | Source

A reality

There is a problem in the spiritual context that is hard to resolve sometimes. We are to rely on and develop self. Yet we are to rely on and develop a relationship with God. Just what is the proper balance here? When we take the reins and seek control over our lives we run a risk of distancing our self from the reliance on God. When we find ourselves totally reliant on God we run the risk of not taking responsibility for our own actions. Certainly this is not a novel or new conundrum. But for some reason it is not addressed nearly as often as it effects our lives. Let us relax and not look for an answer but rather observe and not judge. Perhaps between our selves and God we can come to some agreeable understanding so that we are comfortable in our own skin when faced with these issues when they arise.

I just love this song R E S P E C T

Looking for differences

“Let Go and Let God”. What a wonderful phrase and easy reminder that we are not in control of the universe. But I beg of you while driving 70 miles per hour down the road, do not let go of the steering wheel. How simple is that? Letting go and letting God handle things does not mean that we take no responsibility for our actions, or that we fail to act.

“My son has died and I can find no reason that God would have taken him from me”. How horrible this is and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. This matter is entirely within God’s hands. Our reliance and faith in God can carry us through such a terrible experience but there is nothing that our “selves” can do to create a positive out of the situation.

What startling and clear cut examples. And yet there is a gray area in both of these life situations. In the case of the car I can be a better driver by just accepting traffic and other drivers as being what they are and having faith that things are the way they are supposed to be. Reliance and faith in God can relieve the stress and anxiety of driving and allow me to focus on just being safe. In the case of a great loss I can do things like exercise, meditation and healthy distraction to help get through the time of great grieving.

Just some beautiful wood sculptures of the apostles.

Such beautiful work is done to the glory of God.
Such beautiful work is done to the glory of God. | Source

A song that touches my very soul. Those of us who believe are touched by a living God.

Teamwork

I like to think of my relationship with God as a marriage. It can be good and healthy or it can be stale and destructive. If in our marriages we can find a healthy balance between taking charge and letting go our marriage can flourish and be in and of itself a true nourishment to the soul of both. If we become lopsided in either direction we can create a sick relationship that is not good for either. There is give and take, there is a season for relaxing and a time for commanding. And so it is with our God. We need to give and take from our creator.

There is a man who only gives thanks in his prayers. He asks for nothing from his God. At first blush this would seem a noble perspective and healthy prayer life. But let me let you in on a secret. I am a father of four, three being adults and one being quite young. My adult children are quite self-sufficient and certainly seem to have their act together. They lead great lives and are fit as fiddles both spiritually and physically. I love to hear of their exploits and accomplishments. They are quite loving to their old man and give me much pleasure. But darn it! They just do not need me enough. Nothing brings me as much joy as when they ask for something from me. There is some kind of magical music playing when I hear the words “dad can you help me with this”. It would be hard for me to even imagine my Father who art in Heaven not finding the same joy when I ask for help from Him. One could understand the notion that I owe Him that.

Do you have a God that you can work with?

Do you view your relationship as a partnership?

See results

The beauty of nature, nurtured by man.

My auntie has this wonderful flower just stuck over by the duck and chicken coops. In my humble home it would be a centerpiece.
My auntie has this wonderful flower just stuck over by the duck and chicken coops. In my humble home it would be a centerpiece. | Source

I need folks and God to help me along the way.

So a perfectly self-sustaining human organism is no great asset to a marriage or to a God. Over the last two days my lovely bride who is extremely self-confident and self-competent has asked for my help with the workings of her computer and her phone. In one case I just fixed the problem and in the other just gave advice. Well maybe she ­needed to have her electronics working properly. But I surely needed the boost to my self in being asked to and able to help. My puffed up chest grew two inches.

It is in this symbiotic relationship with God that we find the harmony of self-reliance and reliance on our God. It is in the give and take. If we allow our ego to grow to such extremes that we refuse to ask for help then we become lopsided in self. If we beg and only look to the outside for help our good self disappears. Think of the great tightrope walker with the long pole high above the ground. She gives just enough to the right and adjusts with just enough to the left to keep moving forward and in balance.

It is by no means a cop out to “Let Go and Let God” but it must not be our default position. Our default position must be “get up and get going”. We must ask for guidance and help along the pathway of our journey in life. But if we just sat under the tree and went nowhere what in the world would we need help doing? Certainly no father does for the child what the child could and should do for themselves. Of what good is that? But equally so, no father can see a child fall and not lend a hand up and an encouraging word to carry on.

I will often go to a zoo and nearly ignore the animals.

Many zoos have their areas largest collection of plants. This zoo was not so cool for animals but oh the wonderful gardens.
Many zoos have their areas largest collection of plants. This zoo was not so cool for animals but oh the wonderful gardens. | Source

If we look closely and meditate on such matters we see a whole bunch more beauty in a healthy relationship than we do in a healthy person. I remember visiting the Pantheon and noticing how remarkably harmonious the columns were. I remember seeing in ruins a single solitary pillar standing and thinking how sad that was. It immediately made me think of how much happier the column would be if it were resting with the others. When God and man work in harmony there is a peaceful beauty that surrounds life. When they work at odds there is much discord and violence.

In my travels and happy wanderings around, for years I found the natural world the most satisfying. I saw virgin forests and unclimbable peaks and vast deserts and formidable jungles as the places where man had not sullied God’s great work. For me these were the only places of natural beauty. And today I still hold them in the highest regard and awe and seek them out. Where I was born and raised there was an abundance of land on which no human foot had ever touched down. I remember my horror when hiking outside of Interlaken Switzerland, I had hiked for miles off the trail and thought I was in such wilderness, to my surprise I suddenly realized that all the 100 year old trees were planted in rows! I just could not accept it as natural. But a funny thing happened on my way to my fifties. I began to encounter and cherish well-kept nature. I began to see the beauty in places that for a long time man had worked with nature to build outstanding and delicious parks. I began to find pleasure in areas where man had worked and toiled with God to create a relationship. For some reason as I age I find that places where man has sought to work with God to create beauty are just as beautiful as where only God’s handiwork is found.

This revelation was made even more clear in watching children grow. Oh my how precious and perfect is the newborn. And yet the child is not meant to remain this way for long. We are meant to live life and grow. There is a fun discussion in life known as the nature versus nurture debate. It tries to delineate between what is just the natural condition due to birth of someone and what is taught or conditioned. And there it is for all the world to see as plain as day. We are a combination of the natural wonderful pure relationship with our creator and that which man teaches us along our way. Just as clearly we are a gentle yet firm combination between our self and God. There is no clear line of demarcation and there is no black and white. We are both our self made and our God made.

I took a break from writing this to do something that I really do not like to do but must. I had to go trim back our roses. I just love our roses and they bloom like crazy and grow ferociously. But from time to time I must trim off even healthy growth so that the entire plant grows well and flourishes. Truly at their best they are a combination of man’s nurture and God’s creation. We should probably be as good of stewards with our own self so that we can grow into the best that we can be.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great message my friend, one it took me decades to understand. My growth is infinitely important, and it's not selfishness to say that or act on it.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Good morning Bill, thank you for coming by and leaving a note. However painful that growth is, I don't ever want to stop.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Only in San Diego can you go to the zoo and ignore the animals. My best moments are spent in the marvelous aviaries there, away from the "money" animals like the gorillas and lions. You are blessed to have marvelous children, but I'm sure you had something to do with that. I loved that video with Dolly, it brought a little tear to my eye. Have a great Sunday, my friend.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Mel, I am going to spend my "church" time today, hiking in Quarry Canyon just below Sweetwater Resevoir and just above you. I will commune with nature and hopefully a few homeless residents there who probably could use some encouragement after our rains. Your visit and very nice comment mean a lot to me, thank you.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

      Nice message my friend. We all have to understand ourselves before we may begin to understand our other profound relations and beliefs. whonu

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      A great balance indeed; your writing is a well-balanced explanation of the self and God, one which I can see clearly and it's quite a relief to find that it works so. I'd never thought of it in those terms but that's absolutely how it is. I'm going to look around even more now, to find further examples of your argument.

      Thank you for imparting your continued thoughtful and gentle words. It is so refreshing to have a measured, positive, hopeful view of life on which to reflect.

      I hope your Sunday is as good as mine has been; filled with sunshine and family - all working in harmony, giving and taking, living and loving.

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Whonu, we sure do have our work cut out for us. And the effort is sure worth the while. Thank you for your comment.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you much Ann, Wow! There I was writing an article about it, but it is your comment that makes me take a breath and realize just how fortunate I am that at the moment -- there is harmony around me. I spend too much time inspecting the minutia and not enough looking at the big picture.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I'm a great advocate of looking around at this wonderful world in case I miss something, and I know you are too.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      Hi Eric , Thank you for this excellent sermon . I think that "trimming back the roses" is an excellent way to describe our ways of adjusting our spiritual , our emotional , our family and our social growth ! You are a wise man , I'm so glad to know you ! We certainly can be a "prickly " people this humanity ..........Ed.....:-]

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, this is such an important message--self-development while relying on God. I like the illustration of needing your children to need you. Thanks for putting this in perspective.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Everything is in balance Eric. God certainly wanted us to "be our own man" and use our intellect. Someone once told me, if you have a loving father here on earth you will understand our loving God. I was fortunate enough to truly understand that, having a loving father, and I think your sermon on working with God is certainly something to take to heart. Together God and man can make beautiful things.

      This is a lovely way to start my week!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Another wonderful message via your Sunday Sermon!

      You emphasized the chasm between the God and Self beautifully. Very thoughtful illustrations, thanks and voted up!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ann, I meant to go for a tough workout type hike yesterday. Turned out I just wondered about for a few hours looking at all the wonderful stuff there was on the trail. I am sure glad I did not miss your nice comment this morning.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ed, I did a second round of rose trimming with my five year old Gabriel. We made a game of "if you get pricked you have to smile". Well we sure were smiling. And I haven't the foggiest what that tells me about life. Thanks for your poem on smiling this morning.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Dora, it is great to hear from you. I came to understand about being needed from my infirmed and dying mother. At one frustrated moment she declared in anger that she was not relevant anymore. A sad moment indeed.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Mary and top of the morning to you. Let us make it a good week for ourselves and for all of those around us. My God is such a loving God that He lets me really fail hard sometimes just to keep my ego in check. I do not always like that method but I am hardheaded. Surely your good writing works here are a reflection of your good balance.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      ChitrangaSharan it would seem that we are the fortunate ones; to be able to see the chasm and strive toward reducing it. Today I will work on a little less Eric and a little more God.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      How lovely! Glad you enjoyed your walk!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      There is so much wisdom packed into this hub Eric. I really like the thought that God actually gets a thrill out of us asking him for help and that man and God can work together as a team. A wonderful message. Voted up.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi John, good of you to come by. Your comment reminded me that in the knowledge that we must work with God, we should find also that we must work with others. It is in the synergism of two or more that we find the greatest achievements. Thank you.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I love your observation, "When God and man work in harmony there is a peaceful beauty that surrounds life." Being a musician at heart has had a profound effect on my ability to write. To me, a well written article is as much about harmony, melody, and rhythm as a well written song! When we work together with God to make the world a better place, the results are a great symphony of peace and harmony. What better way to pay tribute to our Creator?

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you for your visit Denise and such a lovely comment. There truly is a music in things done well.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 2 years ago from Washington DC

      Eric,

      To "let go and let god" simply means I "leaves Cezar's things to Cezar" such as automobiles, money, houses, clothes, until god provides you a means to use them without your clinging to them. Christians never consider Genesis 3:24's claiming sword means the fire purifies our minds of the belief in good and evil (Daniel 12:10) while the sword cuts us away from all attachments (Matthew 19:29).

      The marriage of Genesis 2:24 is both genders integrating their femininity into their masculinity eliminating the need of a person to represent the attribute they didn't develop because of parental teachings for the different genders not to do things pertaining to the other gender in themselves because when they do they'll not need another person in their life as husband or wife.

      In our mirage to god, we must first be taught by god its mind (Isaiah 55:8-9)

      to become a child of god. Then we'll have the conference to "let go and let god" just like children don't concern themselves about their needs, they "let go and let parents" take care of it. If god is our father we should have confidence enough to "let go and let god."

      How can man work in harmony with god without god's mind? With god's mind beans so high above ours there is no way the two cam be in harmony. So, do we expect god to lower its standard to our sub level or should we raise ours to god's? Just like we know the child will not remain a newborn god don't expect us to remain with such low level of understanding and the only way we can rise to god's standard is to "let go and let god" teach us his ways and thoughts.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting comment(s). It is good to hear from someone who has given this a great deal of thought. For me it is good to remind myself that God does not need to work within man's logical construct. It is helpful for me to get out of the "if this then that" mindset.

      Thanks for lending us much food for thought.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      I also view my relationship with God as a marriage. My life became so peaceful when I realized what a wonderful counselor He is.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Amen to that Dana.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 23 months ago from India

      A lovely piece of writing ! Eric, as I went on reading it , I felt all peace in my mind. What this hub dwells on is akin to equanimity of mind that scriptures tell us to follow for a happy and peaceful life. The title of the hub is " The chasm between Self and God " , but the hub has successfully built a bridge between Self and God. I love this great Sunday Sermon. All happiness and peace to you and all !

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Harish, somehow I missed this until now. It most assuredly is good to focus on that space between and make an effort to make it smaller. I suppose the same can be said about all of us to each other.

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