We love God, but we hate dependence. Does that sound contradictory?
It should : ) For the very nature of faith invites, ( and presupposes) a ‘leaning on’ someone with greater strength than our own. For this very reason, there are some who’ve called faith a psychological crutch invented to prop up weak minds. Not going to debate that here, but stating it to point out that even the scoffers recognize that Faith and Dependence are inextricably intertwined!
And yet..here’s the strangest thing – all of us who profess to have ‘faith’ would actually hate to find ourselves in a place where we’d actually HAVE to exercise it. Think about it for a moment. Recall that time when all you could do was pray?! When the bank balance dwindled, when circumstances demanded a response of character we did not possess, when the project at hand asked for talents and skills we couldn’t cough up, when our bodies needed a cure that the doctors couldn’t provide, and we were pushed into that corner where we became fearfully, hopefully, resentfully, despairingly dependent on the Author of life – did we welcome it? When life ‘forces’ dependence, we don’t generally like it very much.
Personally, this causes me some introspection – What nature of faith is mine that so despises dependence? If faith is what I extend to God only when I absolutely have to, then what’s my confidence leaning on the rest of the time? Is God just an ‘emergency exit?- a ‘place’ to run to when the building catches fire?
I’ve been learning something precious that I’d like to share with you. I’m learning to not despise dependence but rather to relish the opportunity for it. Don’t get me wrong. None of us are masochists here. We don’t ( I hope) love pain. Nobody likes the feeling of being up creek without a paddle. But the ‘out of control circumstance’ gives us a sacred opportunity to affirm the One we call Father! I’ve made a small shift.. I used to resent circumstances that made me feel vulnerable, uncertain or anxious, but now these periodical hiccups on the road awaken a different response in me…they cause me to gladly and expectantly choose dependence. There’s a big difference between finding oneself dependent and choosing it. In the first instance we lean on God because we believe we have no alternative – a bit like climbing up a tree in the face of an oncoming Tsunami. It’s not that we like climbing trees but in view of what’s in front of us, there’s no better option. Choosing dependence looks a bit different – it’s like facing a lone mugger on the street knowing you have the nation’s military defending you. Again, it’s not that you enjoy the experience of being mugged, but you know that you possess a hidden strength and what you enjoy is the opportunity to acknowledge it!
When the Apostle Paul said that he boasted in his weakness, he was not I think saying he enjoyed being weak. What he enjoyed was the power of God made perfect in His weakness! His dependence on God was in short, helping Him see and experience more of God! That’s why he rejoiced in his weaknesses!
Under-girding all of this of course is the gut level knowledge of the Father’s love and goodness towards us. Without this foundation it’s difficult to become a child in His arms when the winds are contrary. Our innate independence dims the diligence of our prayer life and our reading of scripture, so when the storms come we are thrust into an unsure, fearful clinging rather than the warmth of security.
Truth is, dependence on God should be an intentional way of life for the people of faith, and not an intermittent shout when we find our beds on fire! Or even a reluctant reliance given to Him when “there’s nothing more that we can do”. Isn’t that why Jesus sent out his twelve disciples on their first independent mission with the command to take no purse, bag or sandals for the journey? He was I believe teaching them the very substance of faith – a life of chosen, wilful dependence on the Father. Which begs the next question – what choices would we make if we lived out our lives from a place of proactive dependence on God rather than always from the reactive kind? That is, what if we were open to making life choices that invited vulnerability and dependence rather than having ‘twists on the road’ thrust these upon us from time to time?
I do believe that if we were to walk down this road of wilful, joyful dependence on the Father, we’d find ourselves in a place of loving faith more than sight – that is, the secret delight of being certain of what we do not see might actually surpass the momentary exhilaration of beholding the long awaited miracle! In other words we’d grow to love the journey from dependence to dependence…from relationship to ever deepening relationship with our Father in Heaven!