Like many of you, I have read, “The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkerson. I too have joined the ranks of many by praying the prayer of Jabez over others and myself. I am a firm believer in the promises of God and praying Scripture verses. However, as I prayed Jabez’s prayer, God revealed to me He could not “bless me indeed, and enlarge my border” unless I dealt with sin in my own heart. In my case, the sin of independence from Him and dependence on others.
God is the Faithful Pruner of our souls who desires to produce much fruit in our lives for the Kingdom of God. He wants to increase our border but He will not do it unless we repent of sins The Holy Spirit reveals to us. My sins have been in the area of teaching and preaching because I have failed to remove the “training wheels” when it was long ago time to do so.
Does the image of “training wheels” make you nostalgic or take you on a sentimental journey down memory lane? Perhaps your mind’s eye view of “training wheels” brings you back to the days of childhood when you first learned to ride a bike and felt the wind, the speed and the freedom available to you when balancing a bike on your own. Or perhaps you recall those early days of parenthood when you experienced the joy of seeing your son or daughter ride a bike for the first time.
The “training wheels” were important in those days and no doubt served a definite purpose. But the joy you experienced resulted when you as a child or your own son or daughter no longer depended on the “training wheels.” Some of us may still have the bike from our childhood days buried away in the garage but I doubt any of us would still have the “training wheels.” They were never intended to be permanent fixtures on the bike. Their purpose was to give us assurances and support until the skill of balancing the bike was learned.
How sad it is to remain dependent on the “training wheels” all your life and never know the fuller and richer joy of riding a bike under the power of balance. Truly man’s ability to balance is God-given. For example, one cannot stand or balance without the great toe. What within us gives us the skill to distribute and shift weight back and forth with just the right precision and timing so we are balanced and steadfast? I have to conclude it is God.
In a similar way, the power of balance needed to ride a two-wheel bike resembles the power of The Holy Spirit needed to fully and richly live the Christian life. The balance for living the Christian life comes from The Helper, The Comforter, The Encourager, The Spirit of Truth as He takes the Words of Christ and reveals their inter-workings to our heart. Then, we in turn if obedient, apply the truths revealed to our life. However, the goal of this process is to leave our dependence for balance in the Christian life on Him whom The Holy Spirit reveals: JESUS CHRIST. The goal is to put our full weight or trust in Him and no other resources or “training wheels.”
In my case, I rested too strongly on the insights of other godly men and women in my teaching and preaching when I should have freed myself from the “training wheels.” Please don’t misunderstand my meaning. I am not saying that gathering insights from other godly men and women that God has blessed is wrong any more than using “training wheels” on a bike is wrong. But when the insights from other godly men and women become the basis of your assurance and support without seeking to learn insights from the Lord on your own, then I believe it is wrong. You are robbing yourself and those you teach of the fresh insights the Lord wants to give. This, I have learned, is the fuller joy of teaching and preaching – like riding a bike for yourself under the power of balance rather than “training wheels.”
The subtle danger of “training wheels” in the Christian life is that they can become a permanent fixture and if not careful lead into other sins. SIN IS DECEPTIVE. If we are not “watching and praying” the enemy will substitute an idol in our life to replace Christ and our dependence upon Him for all things. My word to you in the Love of Christ is be on guard. You can be guarding the front door and the enemy will come through the back door if no one is “watching and praying.” BE WATCHFUL AND PRAY. I became the very thing I hate. I was so dependent on my “training wheels” that I became comfortable and lazy in my Christian ministry. I have taken what I perceived to be liberties that I now see were only a license to sin. Again, don’t misunderstand my meaning. I have shared thoughts with you, which I agree with totally and hold as my own conviction to be God’s Sovereign Truth but I have not always given credit where credit was due. Oh how harmless this seemed since the goal was to encourage the Body of Christ. Yet, the underlying sin of deception occurred.
In one sense, I know we are today the product of godly men and women who have influenced our lives for the Lord. If you are aware of such Bible teachers as Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers, J. Vernon McGee, Ray Stedman, Warren Wiersbe, etc., you can see their influence in my writings, my preaching and teaching. But I have not been consistent to reference them when a principle or insight was learned from them or another source and shared with you. As a result, I gave the impression to you, my brothers and sisters, that the scriptural insights were my own when they were not.
I don’t want to be esteemed any higher or lower than I ought to be. I know I am a SINNER saved by God’s abundant grace and by His grace alone. Likewise, I don’t want to appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ as a hypocrite and one who missed out on the deeper riches of Christ. Therefore, I ask for your forgiveness and for your prayers. I know God in His Limitless Mercy has forgiven me and intercedes for me even now. But I need your prayers that God will continue to remove the “training wheels” from my Christian life and ministry and free me from the sin that so easily entangles. The Lord desires to do this for each of His Children so He can “bless them indeed and enlarge their border” for the Glory of His Name. In His Love, Brother Bruce Ferris