From the time I was a tiny baby, I’d cry and my parents would meet my every need. Empty tummy? Here’s a bottle of warm milk. Wet diaper? How about a dry one? Frightened? Let me comfort you. Lonely? I will hold you tightly.
As I matured, I began to do more and more for myself. I learned to eat with a spoon, use the bathroom, and share my thoughts. Eventually I became independent of my parents. This type of independence is healthy and good. It’s a sign of maturity.
In the spiritual realm, however, independence is a sign of immaturity. Sometimes we are so spiritually independent we forget that God is the source of everything we need. It’s an age-old problem, this spiritual amnesia. Paul challenged the Corinthians not to embrace pull-yourself-up-by-the-boot-strap-theology:
“For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7)
Paul knew that acknowledging God as the source of everything insured that his readers would know where to go in times of need. If we understand God gives us the strength to work each day, we’ll be more likely to ask him for help when we feel weak. If we understand God is our provider, we’re less likely to put our faith and trust in our job, the stock market, or our retirement fund. If we understand it is God who calls people into a relationship with himself, we’re more likely to pray than to fret.
This perspective challenges our natural spirit of independence, which causes us to seek help from everyone but God. We try to manipulate our checkbook or our credit. We seek government assistance or the help of friends. We gripe and complain.
It’s nothing new. The Israelites did it in the desert:
“In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death’” (Ex. 16:2).
They whined. They complained. They blamed their leaders. They dredged up “the good old days,” which weren’t very good, otherwise they wouldn’t have asked God to deliver them.
When they were hungry and thirsty, they did everything but ask God for help.
Why didn’t they call upon the God “who loves to give good gifts to his children” (James 5:17)?
Why didn’t they petition the one who promises to “supply all your need according to his riches and glory” (Phil. 4:19)?
Why didn’t they seek out the one who swears he will “never leave or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5)?
Why indeed? And why don’t I?
I grumble. I complain. I ask others. But how often do I go to God first instead of waiting until all my other options are exhausted?
The early days of our marriage we were financially challenging. We lived in a 12 x 60 foot mobile home that was so old the windows didn’t even close completely. Good thing we lived in South Carolina. Bad thing that the first week after our wedding the temps hit a historical low of -4°. The curtains moved with every icy blast.
We learned to pray and ask God for enough money to pay the bills, go to the doctor, and save for a down payment on a house. Later, when we made the decision that I’d only work part time so I could stay home with our girls, we prayed every month that the money wouldn’t run out before the month did.
When we felt God leading us to homeschool, we knew we’d be living on one income in a two-income world, and we prayed a lot. We prayed for money for music lessons, high school classes, and a dependable car. We prayed for God to provide braces, a computer, and college tuition.
God always supplied—not only what we needed, but much of what we wanted, too. Amazing grace. He was a faithful Father, and we were his grateful children.
As our daughters have become young adults and started families of their own, we pray even more. We pray for them to grow strong in their faith, find success in their jobs, and rear their children in the nurture of the Lord. We pray for their safety, their health, and their marriages.
But sometimes we encounter a circumstance that is big, ugly, and scary, and we fall back into our default setting. We cry, complain, or try to fix it with our limited resources. We forget that we serve a compassionate God who eagerly desires to answer the prayers of his children.
When will we learn?
Perhaps you’re facing a stronghold in your life—an area where you just don’t see progress. Maybe you have a need. Or a want—something you’ve never told anyone about. It doesn’t have to be big, super-spiritual, or life threatening to matter to God. He delights in providing even the simple desires of our hearts.
Before you whine, cry, complain, or dismiss it as unimportant, why not talk to God about it? He sees. He cares. And he’s waiting for you to ask him.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” (Eph. 3:20).
Postscript: My husband and I have known for quite some time that it was time to leave our neighborhood and move to a safer one. As we sought the Lord for his favor in both selling our home and buying another, I felt comfortable sharing the desires of my heart with him.
Lord, I wrote in my journal, these features are important to me, but I trust you to know even better what we need. I’d love room to practice hospitality, plenty of windows and light, a pretty kitchen, and a safe neighborhood where I can walk unafraid. And if it’s closer to my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters, how sweet would that be?
|My amazing realtor with our contract.|
I wrote EPHESIANS 3:20 across the entry and bowed my head in humble gratitude.
What are the secret desires of your heart? Perhaps you haven’t had the faith to talk to the Lord about them. Maybe now’s the time to set aside your independence and embrace spiritual dependence.