I absolutely love to dream about the future (this statement is no surprise to anyone who has talked to me for longer than 30 minutes). My mind often strays from my exams and meditates on how I can save up for a trip when I graduate or a new camera lens or the career that I desire. When I think about a couple years from now I picture myself living international, possibly with a family, taking photos and writing for a magazine. I like to think about all the things I need to do in order to make this dream a reality.
Suddenly, the other day my laptop crashes and the small trivial moment of thousands of dollars going toward a new one snaps me back into this present moment. This day is now consumed with finals, packing to wrap up the school year, work and other many daily tasks. I’m now incapable of handling the momentary circumstance because I was so flustered with how this situation was going to ruin the future. In this scenario, I am so out of control. I then balance wondering how God could possibly care about such a first world problem in comparison to the size of his glory of his kingdom. But trying to push my feeling deeper inside myself, only allows other anxieties to surface.
Thus the start of me relearning a valuable lesson about my relationship with God, that I must be extremely dependent on him.
A normal day consists of me doing a lot of activities that don’t require me to consult God. I pray often, but obviously not the daily face-to-the-ground-full-surrender type of prayer because I often feel sufficient. I have deceived myself into believing that I while I need God’s guidance for the bigger picture, I have the means to get myself through the day to day.
My perspective is rather arrogant for who am I to say I have the ability to handle this day when I do not know what tomorrow brings or even can confidently say that I will have tomorrow (James 4:13-15). If it’s impossible for our finite minds to predict the future, how can we possibly rely on our own strength to get through today?
I personally hate the idea of being needy and letting others do things for me. People often prove unreliable (myself included). While I think it’s great to trust everyone has the best intentions, we must acknowledge how forgettable humans are. We often overstuff our schedules until we are bound to forget to do something for someone. Being constantly surrounded by the undependable nature of humans, it's hard to remember that our God is fully dependable. God’s dependability is especially difficult to grasp when it seems easier to quickly handle a situation yourself instead of taking the time to consult God.
Often I think of 1 Thessalonians 4:12, “so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” to back up my reasoning that I should be independent. The mentality of this verse for me translates to “I’ll do what’s best for me and you do you.” But this is not what Paul means by this verse.
The church was made to function as a body, together.
He calls the Thessalonians to work hard at what they’re best at and not to exploit the wealthy. Paul certainly does not mean work independently and do whatever floats your own boat. We are not superhumans with the capability to thrive alone, but we were made to work collectively while depending on God instead of trying to provide for ourselves or by contrast lazily waiting for other believers to provide the means for us.
American’s thrive on this concept of individualism. Our schools push us towards this individualistic attitude. If students want to succeed then they must put in the effort to make good grades on their own merit. The business world pushes individualism. To have a successful career may require outperforming coworkers who are up for the same position.
Independence can teach us that we are fit to run the world in a way that fits the ideal in our head. Independence means organizing everything to flow according to how we like it and while we may care for others, the ultimate goal is to fulfill whatever plans we designed for ourselves whenever our brains developed enough to create these plans. With hearts that are so fickle, how could we expect the plans we designed to be constant. Our desires change daily and yet we still will choose our own way of life over the path of following Christ.
Dependence can teach us that while we aren't fit to run the world, we have a God who is. Dependence means recognizing who designed our very brains before the beginning of time, a God who has all knowledge, all power and who's plans never change.
John 15 talks about abiding in Jesus, that we are unable to bear fruit alone. Abiding is not something we chose to do, but what we have to do. Dependence directly correlates with abiding. When we are with Jesus daily, we are able to remember he’s the first one we need to go to in order to be able to handle every daily circumstance. We have to depend on him or else our achievements will delude us into self-sufficiency and when the storm begins to blow we won’t have a firm foundation to get us through.
The vine that connects us to Jesus is not imprisoning either, it is beautifully dressed and abundant with the fruit of life. By desiring independence from God, we become the little grape that jumps off the tree to be “free” and ends up rotting away in the ground. We were designed to be a part of the tree and to follow in His purpose (Proverbs 19:21).
Dependence reminds us what this relationship with Jesus is all about. If we don’t depend on God, who do we depend on? Our own talents, performance, abilities, and grades or perhaps friends and family.
If we don’t depend on God, where does our trust lie? Do we believe he is incapable of providing everything we could ever want or need?
If we don’t depend on God, have we ever given our lives to him to begin with? The ultimate sin in the bible is idolizing other things instead of relying that the one true God is enough.
Dependence reveals hearts that seek his help first in prayer when problems arise and his opinion last before making a big decision. We seek him because he is a beautiful and wonderful Father that we desire to follow.
Ultimately when we are depending on God, we will be given a spirit that delights daily. When you look at Father of the entire universe and see how he cares so intimately for EVERY single thing that happens to you, you recognize that you can trust him to deliver you every time. Resting in the truth about dependence will bring peace beyond doubt.