I felt the soapy dishwater drip from my fingers as his words cut into my heart.
“I don’t need you anymore.”
The cool November breeze floated through the open door as he turned and walked away.
Not need me anymore? How could he say that?
I looked out the window watching those brown boots carry him across the yard. My shoulders rose – then fell as a sigh escaped my lips. I knew the day would come, but I didn’t know how much it would hurt. It was just an innocent comment from my then four-year old son, but it stabbed my heart like a dagger.
“Mama! Mama! I can swing by myself! I don’t need you anymore!” For this mother, it was one more sign that my job was changing every day; and this was a good change—he was showing independence, something we all work towards for our children. Almost as soon as he could talk I heard, “Me do it! Me do it!” He wanted to be his own (little) man.
Independence is a good thing; it’s a healthy goal as we raise our children. But it’s not the goal of God for His children. In fact, the opposite is true – God desires greater dependence, and less independence. Unlike human parents, He measures our growth by how much we rely on Him.
Throughout Scripture we find man trying to run ahead of God, trying to establish his own autonomy, trying to distance himself from his creator. Isn’t that the idea behind Satan’s lies in the Garden? By promising Eve “wisdom and knowledge” he was telling her she could be independent from God; she could make up her own mind about what was good and evil and determine her own destiny. She could get out from under God’s thumb.
The Bible shows the nation of Israel’s constant attempts to go their own way, make their own rules, and live by their own authority, and over and over we see them fail because God did not call them to independent greatness. He called them to be His people, in a covenant relationship with Him where He provided and guided and they relied and followed. When God led them out of Egypt and started for the Promised Land, He meant for them to trust and rely on Him. But when they came to the edge and saw the size of the enemy they balked and determined to strike out on their own back to Egypt. The result was hardship and death. God called them into a covenant relationship that required their complete dependence, but they would not humble themselves before Him. They exemplified the heart of disobedience – prideful independence. The last verse in Judges gives a chilling report: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25).
The Christian faith is built on this same dependent relationship. We depend on Christ for our salvation. We depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom. We depend on our Heavenly Father for our “daily bread,” for our future, for strength, and for eternal life. We don’t “stand on our own two feet,” as believers we stand on the work and worth of Christ. We stand on God’s faithfulness. No, scratch that—we rest on the work and worth of Christ and the faithfulness of God, and that is what the people of Israel – and you and I – miss when we struggle to be independent of God—we miss His rest. For those who give up their “right” to autonomy and depend on God there is rest. Physical rest. Emotional rest. Spiritual rest. And isn’t that what we really want?
Perhaps you’ve heard the “verse,” “God helps those who help themselves.” Friend, I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover many times over—trust me when I tell you, it ain’t in there. From Genesis to Revelation I find no place where God chastised people for depending on Him too much, but I do find over and over that He rebuked them for trying to live independent of Him. God wants—demands our reliance. There’s no other way to live in relationship with Him.
It’s true that Scripture tells us to “grow up in the faith” (Ephesians 4:15), but the mark of maturity in Christ is greater dependence on Him. Just as the branch relies on the vine for its nourishment and fruit, believers in Christ are to remain attached to our Life-source for our every need.
Let’s declare this our DEPENDENCE day in Christ.
Holy, gracious and wonderful God, it’s not that you want to rule over me: You want to love me, care for me, provide for me and guide me. Lord help me to rely on You for every need in my life. I’m so grateful that I can always depend on You. Amen.