I recently read a blog from a self-help enthusiast who proclaimed, “No one is coming to the rescue.”
As one who loves to read and write about sozo (a Greek word: to rescue from danger or destruction), I took immediate issue. Rescue is at the heart of every good story. Once more, I believe we all need rescuing in one form or another. Gosh, if no one is going to show up, I don’t care to watch or read…let alone live my life without that hope.
The blogger asserted that nobody and nothing will rescue us, and then pointed to self-help rituals as his saving grace. But…the self-help industry came to his rescue. Right? I wonder, when the going gets tough, how deep and lasting that help will be? Far be it from me to attack any industry that people can learn from.
But I thrive on stories of transformation in books, movies, and…dare I say it, the biblical accounts. Even better, it’s amazing to hear real-life stories of transformation over coffee or dinner. Unlike that blogger, someone did wait in the shadows of my life, ready to rescue me from folly.
I heard him call out clearly: I am your deliverer. You might hear that same voice, or a similar one, depending on your belief system. Or you might be like I was, with no spiritual base. Maybe you can’t hear anything at all. Nevertheless, a voice transcends time and space, and invites us into his unique brand of self-help…his sozo.
Many people have done quite well financially using self-help principles. Some, myself included, have spent a lot of money on books, tapes, and conferences—not to mention therapy—to attain what the world considers success. I have no hang-ups about money. It does what it’s designed to do quite well. And surprise: I don’t even mind having some. (Interestingly, the underlying principles in these tools can be traced to the greatest self-help book ever written!)
I admire those who “force their way to the top from the lowest rung by the aid of their bootstraps.” (James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922) I like to think of myself as being one of them.
But sixty-six years into my journey, I’ve come to realize that success and money don’t satisfy that inner longing for significance that we all share. When money buys all that it can and still leaves an internal void, and when success dies and leaves us hanging onto past glory, who or what will deliver us from emptiness to wholeness? It won’t be a self-help book or tape.
Even Beatle John Lennon, with all the trappings of the world at his fingertips, desperately cried out…Help!
Great self-help gurus like Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill can’t provide the salve for our brokenness. Similar to Lennon, I am engaged in a personal, spiritual pilgrimage, albeit a much different one than his. Through my journey, God is flushing out deep caverns filled with life’s wounds; brokenness that blocks the fullness of the help my deliverer longs for me to experience.
Love, peace, and joy…the original self-help book can bring me that. And that kind of rescue can save the world.