By Trina Bresser Matous
When Adam and Eve chose to heed the serpent and eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they chose to assert their independence. They were striking out apart from God rather than acknowledging their need for and dependence on Him. Ever since, humanity has been following in Adam and Eve’s footsteps.
Today our culture fully embraces independence. We value pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, doing it our way, looking out for #1, and making sure we are top dog in a dog eat dog world. As much as we value independence, it is not what God had in mind when He called a people to Himself. God wants us to depend on him.
I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6.7)
One step in our redemptive process is addressing the independence we are so prone to exhibit. God told Moses and reminds us today that He is God. All the other people, events, circumstances, and material items we try to make into gods are merely idols in which we have placed false hope. There is only one God.Additionally, God reminds us that He has chosen us. We are His people, whom He will care for. In Moses’ day, that was achieved by bringing the people out of the oppression they were experiencing under Egypt’s rule.
If our society so strongly values independence, how can dependence on God increase our joy in life?
Dependence on God decreases our anxiety about the future.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who had a biopsy for potential cancer. Not yet knowing the results, she was already far ahead of herself, worrying about taking time off her job, who her surgeon would be and a myriad of other things that were of no concern when she later heard the biopsy was benign. Had she left tomorrow’s worries for tomorrow (Matthew 6.34), she would have saved herself sleepless nights and anxiety about what was to come.
Sometimes our worst fears do come to pass: the biopsy is positive, the pink slip lands on our desk, or divorce is imminent despite our greatest efforts. Even so, God will respond to our needs and act in our lives in ways we cannot imagine as we play out potential scenarios while worrying.
As we learn to depend on God, we gain confidence that He will provide for our needs. Since God already knows the future we cannot see, He is able to put pieces in place that will bring us greater fulfillment and joy than anything we can ever do.
Dependence on God allows us to live more fully in this moment.
For many years I worked about 25 minutes from home. The majority of my driving was on the I-94 freeway through Detroit. More than once, I can remember exiting the freeway after driving some 15-20 minutes and thinking, “How did I get here? I don’t remember one thing about my drive home.” It’s amazing that something can so occupy our thoughts that we are totally unaware of our surroundings.
While each of us can remember our past and plan for the future, in reality all we have is this moment. How many times have we missed out on what was going on – an important comment from a spouse, a child’s funny quip, a friend’s agonized confession – because we were focused on our own anxiety? As we trust our future to God and release our anxiety and worry to Him, we are better able to live fully present in this moment.
Depending on God enables us to be content.
When I began dating the man who would eventually become my husband, I was impressed that he, the CEO of a local business, lived in a modest house and had very little debt. I’d come from a background where image was very important and debt was often accumulated to ensure the image was maintained. My husband had learned to trust God for what he needed and enjoy what God provided.
I find it interesting that Paul wrote about learning to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself in shortly after he exhorted his readers to meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Paul had learned to be content because the things he meditated on led him to depend on God for everything.
When we are content, we give ourselves the space to rejoice over a co-worker’s success instead of responding with jealousy, enjoy an afternoon on a friend’s boat instead of being filled with envy, and experience peace in the midst of significant disappointment instead of giving way to bitterness.
Dependence on God is not a sign of weakness, as some would have us believe today. It is the surest means of experiencing God’s grace, blessings, and provision to the greatest degree.
What is one way you can increase the joy in your life by increasing your dependence on God?
Please share with us in the comments.
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