I was recently privy to a conversation that included a little summary on miracles. The story of the woman with an issue of blood, who was healed by merely touching the hem of the Savior's robe, was cited. Then it was summed up this way, "What we have to do is first, do everything that is in our power to fix our problems. If we will put forth all of our efforts, then have faith that God will do his part, miracles will happen."
Raise your hand if you have heard this doctrine before. Yep, that's pretty much all of us.
And it's completely false.
The point of the story of the woman with the issue of blood actually demonstrates the futility of doing everything that is in our power alone. For more than a decade, she lived with this problem, calling upon doctors and all of the medical wisdom of the day to no avail. All of that work profited her nothing, in fact, in Mark 5:26 it declares that for all the poking and prodding and money spent, she was worse! Only when she exercised faith in Christ and partnered with Him, by touching his hem, was she healed.
If she had struggled with this medical problem for a few months or a year, say, and had called on but one doctor and she did the exact same thing--she exercised faith in Christ and touched his hem--would she still have been healed? Or would He have turned to her and asked, "Have you done everything you can on your own first?"
Of course she would have been healed. And our Savior never would have asked her to heal herself without His help. When the questions are put like that, they seem absurd, as they should.
In Matt 11:29, Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me...and ye shall find rest unto your souls." What he doesn't say here is just as important as what he does.
But first, let's remember what a yoke is. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces of wood that cattle or oxen stick their heads through. The point of the yoke is 1) to keep the animals very close together working step by step and 2) to multiply the strength of the animals so that they can carry much heavier loads.
So, it's important to note that Christ doesn't say, "Take this yoke upon you, drag it as far as you can by yourself and when you're completely exhausted, I'll lift my side for a little while and give you a rest."
Our Savior is already in the yoke! It is His yoke, after all. He is but waiting for us to come unto Him, to be by His side, shoulder to shoulder, and allow Him, through His atoning power, to pull our load, thus giving us "rest unto [our] souls."
There are many other examples of this principle. In 3 Nephi 11:38, Christ says, "Ye must repent and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God."
Why do we have to become as a little child? Some think it is to be so innocent. Others think that it is to be meek, humble and teachable--all good qualities that children possess. But I think it is dependence. Note that Christ says "little child" and not just "child". In some languages our English word "toddler" translates only as "little child".
Thus, He is giving us an example of dependence. My 3-year-old is dependent on me for food, clothing, shelter, love, teaching, etc. In this way--as a little child--Christ wants us to be dependent on Him. Giving up our will to follow instead, the will of the Father, just as little children are eager to follow parental guidance and please us.
Even though we need to be self-reliant in temporal matters, paying our own bills and not dependent constantly on some kind of intervention or aid, we should not be self-reliant in spiritual matters. That merely puts our faith in the arm of flesh. No, we have been directed over and over again to go through life with a divine dependence.
Most of my life I have not understood this doctrine. But now that I do know what it truly means to come unto Christ, to trust God and to surrender the only thing that is uniquely mine to give--my will, I can't help but share this message. We don't have to go through life alone hoping that if we do enough righteous things, then we can take advantage of Christ's Atonement. No, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can help us everyday, with everything, thus making Christ not only our Savior, but also our Friend.