As Christians, what can we do when we can’t do any more?

What can we say when our health problems, relational problems, money problems or situational problems overwhelm us? What words can we use then?

We might consider twisting the English language. Perhaps the shape of a pretzel will work.

Consider some aspects of ancient languages that might provide a model for this. Greek, Sanskrit and Old Norse have a grammatical middle voice, a voice between the active voice (Mother’s adore their babies) and the passive voice (Babies are adored by their mothers). The middle voice can say this in a third way, “I will have myself adored.” That’s the middle voice. English doesn’t normally use that voice, but as you see, the middle voice can be voiced in an odd, twisted way.

Rachel Winner, in her book Still, gives two examples of the middle voice as she explores her wavering spiritual experience as a Christian.

“I will have myself carried.”

“I will have myself saved.”

I love those unique expressions of “ I will have.” They contain longing, hope and confidence.

The middle voice — found in “I will have myself saved” — indicates that it is another agent than oneself that does the saving. In this case, the implied agent for the Christian — saying such a thing — is God.

We Christians might think of this as a way of saying, “I will put myself in God’s hands, and he will rescue me,” or “I will present myself to God. He will save me.”

But the mid-voiced form, “I will have myself saved” is better. It is better because it says what we want to say concisely, and because it accurately respects something about God and about oneself that is true. It respects God as savior. And it respects oneself as worthy of being saved.

Also, notice that it is spoken in this pretzeled form of the language almost as a demand. “I will have salvation!” Or, it is spoken with certainty, “I will not entertain any options or scenarios of not being saved.” Or it comes across as a foregone conclusion, “I will not, not be saved by God.” Or, we may say, it is spoken with active confidence, “I will take action to render myself present to God to save me and he will do it.” It is all of those.

About God it implies, “I know that when I present myself to God, he will carry and rescue me.” It reminds me of Job’s famous, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” Job 13:15

This passage from Job is often misread. It is not an expression of the ultimate form of passivity. Job is presenting himself as both active and worthy. In maintaining his innocence, his ways, he is declaring himself worthy of salvation no matter what happens to him.

The NIV renders Job’s words as, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.”

The Message renders this as, “even if he killed me, I’d keep on hoping. I’d defend my innocence to the very end.”

We must not miss Job’s defense of himself in this scripture. Job is saying, “I will, no matter what I experience ahead, even if it is death, put myself in God’s hands to be carried and saved, and he will save me because I am worthy of this,” or to pretzel it in English into the middle tense, “I will have myself saved.” What we have here is an affirmation of grace, both original grace (we have worth because we were made in the image of God) and redemptive grace (we are made worthy by the sacrifice of Christ). Job unknowingly but rightly puts himself within Christ, within redemption when he trusts God to save him.

Try it on. See if it fits, the pretzeled, middle-voiced, grace-affirming, self-affirming cri de coeur. Use it to help yourself adopt the correct posture toward yourself when difficulty overwhelms you. Christians, you are not guilty. You are not being punished or condemned. You are loved; you are worthy; you are forgiven. It is okay, even encouraged by scripture, to be confident before God because God is more than willing to carry and save us. He has already saved us! It is ours to claim and receive, and he is pleased when we do.

“Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.”

Hebrews 10:22

Say it with me:

“I will have myself carried.”

“I will have myself saved.”

Comments
  1. Tim McConnell says:

    Love this one! I couldn’t find anything this woman. I wanted to get the book but couldn’t find on Amazon!

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