The past six months have been tumultuous ones for our family. So far beyond my abilities were the hurricane-like activities that needed to be orchestrated for our recent move across the country, that it was not at all difficult for me to set aside my own ego, drop on my knees, and cry a spiritual “uncle.” Each night I fell into bed begging the Lord for revitalizing sleep and woke up beseeching him for supernatural energy. Each day I lived acutely aware of my dependence on the Lord, completely trusting that what came together and/or what fell apart were both of his ordaining.
A complete mental break down was my other option, but that just seemed too inefficient.
After finally moving into our new house, the hurricane-like activity lessened a bit. With a sigh of relief I prayed, “Thank you, God. I don’t know what I would have done without you, but don’t worry, I can take it from here.” Little did I know that it was only the eye of the storm.
Before even a fraction of our moving boxes were unpacked, my father-in-law suffered several strokes two thousand miles away in California. The day two of my teenagers headed to their first day at their new high school, my husband headed west to be with his dying father and grieving mother, and there I was, again, on my knees begging and beseeching.
After a heartrending and exhausting trip to the wake and funeral we returned to the house we were calling home, unpacked a few more boxes, and I noticed my prayer life once again settling back into a comfy, “Sorry to have trouble you, yet again, God, but I’m good now. Really, you can go ahead and get back to the business of running the world.”
Now, there is this old adage that “there are no atheists in a fox hole,” so I’m pretty sure that others have been through life’s storms, and cried out to God like I have. Hopefully this also means that others have also felt something troublesome about this sort of fox-hole-only relationship with the Lord God Almighty. The trouble, of course, is in the heretical philosophy that I should be able to be independent of God, and that any unfortunate dependence on him should be as minimal and as short-lived as possible. The question is, why do I think this way?
At the foundation of some of my misconceptions about a Biblically whole and healthy relationship with God is the saying that, “God helps those who help themselves.” Often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, this proverb-like maxim is pure, ideal Americanism, but it is flat out not scriptural. In fact, Scripture paints a very different picture about the type of relationship that God, our Creator wants to have with us, his beloved creatures.
Scripture tells us that the Lord God is passionately in love with each of us, even to the point of dying for us (1 John 3:16). Yes, he’ll be there when life hits us with yet another storm, but His plan was to be there, loving and shepherding us in the sunny pastures, too.
The idea that “God helps those who help themselves” is not a complete lie. God does bless us and others by our work. God does want us to get out there and show his love by applying ourselves rather than sitting on our hands all day, but to twist that into permission to over-value our own abilities and talents and devalue our need for God is a lie Satan would love us to believe. It means we are forgetting that even our abilities and talents are gifts from the Lord, and could be taken away by something as sudden and involuntary as a car accident, an economic down turn, a cross-country move, or the death of a loved one.
Jesus didn’t wait for tumultuous times to depend on his Father God, and we shouldn’t be either. By following Jesus’ example and taking time to be with our Lord during the sunny days as well as the rainy ones, I believe that our even rainy days will pass more like squalls and less like hurricanes, and that’s an option that I for one, would very much like to have.
Copyright 2011 Heidi Bratton