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July 25, 2011

I can’t help myself…? It’s time to deny the denial

by quaesitor
Sandra McCracken

It’s an ambiguous title. It can mean two very different things. Either I can’t stop myself (e.g.I have little self-control when it comes to resisting temptation, whatever that might be) or I can’t rescue myself (and I’m stuck). It seems to me that western culture is in denial about both. Control and autonomy are our post-Enlightenment mantras (in the name of personal freedom of course). And much to our frustration, neither are truly attainable.

As Philip Yancey says:

As adults we like to pay our own way, live in our own houses, make our own decisions, rely on no outside help. We look down upon those who live off welfare or charity. Faced with an unexpected challenge, we seek out ‘self-help’ books. All the while we are systematically sealing off the heart attitude most desirable to God and most descriptive of our true state in the universe. ‘Apart from me you can do nothing,’ Jesus told his disciples, a plan fact that we conspire to deny.

Prayer: does it make any difference? (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2006) p37

It just so happened that I was reading this at the same time as Sandra McCracken’s Feast or Fallow came on in iTunes. This song, called Can’t Help Myself, is a beautiful meditation on the Psalms of Ascents (in particular Psalm 121). And she’s absolutely nailed it…

This is just a very rough and ready youtube recording where she’s doing an acoustic version accompanied by her husband Derek Webb (who does a bit of an Edge impression on guitar)… It doesn’t really do the song justice (but was the only thing i could find to embed). So to get the produced version, check out the album

Can’t Help Myself

Sandra McCracken

I confess the things I am afraid of:
thorns and danger just around the bend
I pray for tongues of fire and bands of angels
to come and circle ’round me like a fence

I lift my eyes to the hills, where comes my help?
I lift my hands–empty hands–I can’t help myself
I can’t help myself; no, I can’t help myself

My enemies surround me like an army–
within, without, the battle’s raging on
I pray the Spirit will be strong and mighty
for courage through the night until the dawn

I lift my eyes to the hills, where comes my help?
I lift my hands–empty hands–I can’t help myself
I can’t help myself; no, I can’t help myself

Oh trust the Lord–my soul and all that is in me–
oh trust the light to show your darkest parts
With wounds of truth and love, a friend who has known me;
a fool would keep his secrets in his heart

I lift my eyes to the hills; here comes my help
I lift my hands–empty hands–I can’t help myself
I can’t help myself, can’t help myself
Can’t help myself; no, I can’t help myself; I can’t help myself

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