Rolling out of bed, my bare feet touched the pine floor of a house nearly a hundred years old, a house built by someone long before I was born. The pine boards were hewn by someone else’s hands, cut from trees neither he nor I planted, trees drawn heavenward by sunlight.
The house sits on soil dating back untold thousands of years. It rests on bricks molded from Georgia clay left behind by an unseen hand long before human eyes wondered at the soil’s redness. The water I splash on my face in the bathroom has flowed through evaporation and condensation in an ongoing cycle driven by forces far beyond my ability to influence.
The music from my radio rides over the miles carried on unseen waves. The electricity powering the radio comes to me through a plug in the wall, but it’s true source is much more complex than that. Gravity, fusion, combustion - one or a combination of those mysterious forces provides my power.
And so it is with everything you and I touch. Take a slow look around at everything that surrounds you. At some level, you provided none of it. The food we eat, the fabrics and skins we wear, the materials from which we build - we create none of them. The forces we harness - radio and microwaves, electricity, internal combustion - all rely on energy sources totally beyond us.
I’m afraid that we sometimes forget the obvious fact that we are not self-sufficient. A young construction worker was bragging that he was the strongest man on the job. He especially made fun of an older worker. After several minutes, the elder man had enough.
"Put your money where your mouth is!" he exclaimed. "I'll bet a week's pay that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to the other building that you won't be able to wheel back."
"You're on, old man," the young man replied. "Let's see."
The old man grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he said with a sly smile, "All right. Get in."
We cannot carry ourselves. We did not give ourselves life. We cannot sustain life on our own. There is no such creature as a “self-made man.”
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).