A Disciplined Dependence

By nature, I am not a disciplined person. I’m a free-spirited lady with a fierce independence. Now, there’s nothing wrong with how God made me. The problem is when I allow that independence to keep me from depending fully on God as well as allowing it to inhibit my relationships with members of the body of Christ (a.k.a. the church, other Christians.) I would imagine you could say the same, even if it is a different personality trait.

So I have this problem. I am not good at trusting… at all. This is unfortunate because that’s exactly what God call us to do in every situation in our lives!

“Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” Isaiah 26:4

Because I find it difficult to put my trust in God and His promises, I’m often overwhelmed by anxiety and doubt. I didn’t realize this until I was listening to a sermon from my pastor but I’m actually sinning by allowing doubt to take hold of me instead of trusting in my God. You know what else? I’m also sinning if I don’t submit myself to the body of Christ.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:10-13

Did you see that commandment? Since I’m being honest, I don’t always do that. I am foolish in my independence in the fact that I think I can do this whole life thing alone. You know when I most often feel that way? When I’ve been hurt or rejected or someone makes me mad or I don’t agree with how something is being done (I’m a leader not a follower). It doesn’t take much for me to want to run and protect myself. If I take that path though, I’ll end up alone. Huddled up in my bubble… alone. Maybe no one else will be able to hurt me but I sure will hurt myself. We are created for community. We are designed to crave intimacy (on any level.)

Do you struggle with that too? Maybe it doesn’t always look like a defiant, one person exodus. Maybe it takes shape in allowing people to come past 3 of your walls but not all 10. Sometimes I even get all Joan of Arc thinking that I’m going to save people from the “horror” of my personal revelations. I kid you not, I think “Oh well, that little tidbit about me or what I’m going through is too sad. I don’t want to make other people sad so I’ll just keep that one to myself.” How ridiculous is that? Do you want to know the real reason I keep things within the recesses of my heart like it’s a menagerie? I don’t want to appear weak or in need. But I am. We all are. I’m tired of everyone pretending that all is well when in reality we’re dying on the inside.

So I’m biting the bullet and opening up to you. Why? Because someone needs to be honest about this. I need to bring this from the darkness, into the light. How else could I possibly move on from this struggle if I’m not honest about it? How can anyone else receive healing if someone doesn’t talk about their own need for it? As members of the body of Christ, we are not only dependent on God but dependent on one another.

Ready to get really crazy? I tend to believe Jeremiah 29:11 is true for you but it’s not true for me. I frequently buy into the lie that God loves you more than He loves me. That He wants more good for your life than He does mine. I told you… crazy. But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Otherwise, I wouldn’t feel the need to press on with this writing despite my discomfort in sharing all of this with you. Now, I know deep down that this isn’t the truth. However, those lies still cause an emotional and spiritual head-on collision within me.

None of this surprises God. When I asked Him to reveal something very specific to me last night during my quiet time, he lead me to James.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” James 1:6-7

That’s me. I’m like a wave of the sea going here, there, and everywhere.  I’m like Peter when he was walking on water. He took his eyes off of Jesus for one second and immediately fell into the water, becoming one with his doubt instead of one with Christ. The truth of that stings. Especially when I’ve been given the opportunity to stand on the Solid Rock. Do you ever do that? Trade your firm ground for a sea of doubt?

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:1-2

We must learn to be completely dependent on God. It’s not easy to trust in the unseen but it can be done by God’s grace and guidance. Let’s discuss some practical ways that we can accomplish this.

1) Passionately pursuing God through prayer.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7

2) Passionately pursue God through His Word. Learn who He is and what He’s about. Also, memorize scripture.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11

3) Go to God first with all your joys and all your troubles. We tend to go to the people we trust most or the people who will tell us what we want to hear when things happen in our lives. We have to be consistent in making God our number one.

Whom have I in heaven butYou? And thereis none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26

These things take discipline. They take effort. Remember that I said I’m not a very disciplined person? This is a tremendous struggle for me! When I wake up in the mornings the only I want is coffee. It takes effort for me to praise God as soon as I open my eyes. It takes time to read God’s Word. In order to not treat God like some cosmic genie it takes a full understanding of who He is.

There are also practical steps in becoming more dependent upon your brothers and sisters in Christ.

1) Get to know one another. Take some time to have coffee. Schedule a phone conversation. You would be surprised how quickly you can get to know someone if you are just open to the process.

2) Don’t be exclusive. Once you have your group of friends, don’t get all weird and protective of that circle. Always be open to new people joining your group.

3) Pray for one another and with one another. Go back to Romans 12:10-13.

A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me. In intercessory prayer the face that may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed into the face of one for whom Christ died, the face of a pardoned sinner.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

4) Be a person of high character. Be trustworthy. Be respectful. Be full of love.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. We cannot do this life thing alone. We were created for God and we were created for community. It’s going to take some bravery on your part but I believe in you. I truly do.

I know we were all over the place today. If you stuck through this long, I thank you. And I’m praying that wherever you are, whoever you are, God will minister to you today through these words. All glory and honor and praise be to Him!