Over the last few months, my mind has been wrestling with an idea. Many times in my life, I’ve asked to know God’s presence, for Him to feel close or real. I’ve asked for His guidance or to know His will clearly. And lately, if I’m honest, I’ve started to fear my own question a little.
I look at my friend who mourns the death of her husband. I listen to the young pastor at church who lost both his mother and father to debilitating illnesses within three months of each other. I read examples in the Bible like Gideon. And I know all of them truly experienced God.
This young pastor shared his own story of loss as we looked at Judges chapter six at church on Sunday. The Israelites were hiding in make-do shelters in the clefts of mountains and caves because the Midianites had so oppressed them and ravaged their land. Gideon is in a winepress threshing wheat to keep it hidden from the Midianites when he encounters the angel of the Lord. And after learning that God wants to use him, an ordinary man from the weakest clan in Israel, to deliver the Israelites from this oppressive hand, Gideon responds by building an altar to the Lord called “The LORD Is Peace.” And this young pastor, months after losing both his parents and struggling with questions, felt that same LORD of Peace is his own heart.
I want to know that peace. I want to have that intimate knowledge of God. But I don’t want to have to depend on God.
I know that God is available to all of us–we don’t have to experience extreme loss to know Him–but perhaps we feel Him most strongly in times of suffering because it is in those times that we can’t depend on ourselves to find the answers. Our own comfort is not strong enough. In those times, we truly lay ourselves at His feet and admit we can’t weather the storm alone.
I’m not good at depending on anyone. I don’t like situations out of my control. I try to act responsibly and make good decisions, which is good, but not if I let go of the hand that guides me.
I don’t think God hides himself until we suffer or that if I ask to experience God I need to first experience tragedy, but I do believe I need to learn how to surrender in the everyday. And if I learn to surrender in the everyday, when those times of suffering come because they will come I will know to whom I should turn.
Knowing to whom I should turn is the whole battle. The God who sends His peace out of kindness and love when we feel sorrow is the same God who wants to laugh with us when we feel joy. I want to learn to laugh with Him. I want to understand dependence. I want to want to lay myself down at the altar of ‘The LORD Is Peace.’ And I know when I do, He will be there.
Have you ever clearly felt the presence of God? Are you able to depend on God in times of sorrow AND joy? Linking up with Michelle and Jen this week!
20 thoughts on “Learning Dependence”
I'm stuck on this sentence:
"I don’t think God hides himself until we suffer or that if I ask to experience God I need to first experience tragedy, but I do believe I need to learn how to surrender in the everyday. "
Because I need to learn this too.
How I love it when biblical stories entersect our own lives so immediately.
Oh, this is one of those posts that I really feel like I identify with. I've always hated the "if it's meant to be, it will be" phrase. Hated giving up control like that.
Then one summer a few years ago, it was a particularly bad summer. The kind of moments where life brings you to your knees and you're not sure you'll make it out? I found myself traveling for work and back on my college campus (Penn State). Unable to sleep, I finally got up at dawn and went for a walk. It was summer so the campus was empty and I found myself at the chapel. I'm not a churchy kind of person, but I really wanted to go in but it was locked. So I sat down outside the church, just wanting to scream and cry and be angry. And then all of a sudden, I felt a weird sense of relief, or peace. It was uncanny. And in that moment, i knew I would be OK. I didn't imgaine things would work out like they did, but I knew that either way, I would be ok. And I was.
And it's that moment, more than five years later that makes me believe that things will be OK, even when I have no reason to believe it.
I love reading stories like yours about God's peace–it's something that can't really even be explained just felt, and I'm comforted to know that others have felt it so strongly. I'm like you; I want to work out the details or second-guess if I've done what I'm supposed to do to stay on the plan God has for me. Letting go is hard, but I'm convinced, even more so after reading your story, that that letting go is how to truly experience God. Thanks for sharing!
I think when suffering strikes, because you do have a foundation of faith, you will feel Gods presence strongly and definitively. Yet I also believe, as you point out, that this is important, maybe more important, too: "I do believe I need to learn how to surrender in the everyday." I find it really, really hard to surrender in the everyday mundane, in the grit. I just entirely forget to even try to let it go — I wrestle, and fight and wrangle for control, and most times it doesn't even cross my mind to relinquish it over to Him. This is a problem, I know.
Hi! I popped over from Jen's site. Loved this post & was super timely for me. Thanks!
so often i ask for help in depending on him….kind of weird.
It may be weird, but I do it, too!
I am a control freak . but in this area I have learned a new view. God taught me to take SERIOUSLY that the Kingdom of Heaven is within me. That Christ in ME is my hope of glory. His presence is here with me and I can rest in that no matter what I am going through. Now I am still human…I cry, I get mad, I get disappointed but through all that I can turn right inside and hide in Him. It is there that I know I will be just fine!
I am thinking of the song BLESSINGS by Laura Story …great song.
Yes, and Yes to your last questions. Please come visit me at my place and you will understand:)
Thank you for sharing!
Visiting from Jenn's place
Oh yes – I find it hard to surrender in the everyday because I am almost afraid to prepare for the tough times. If I prepare for them, they will come. . . crazy, I know. Great post.
your story has got me to thinking…as I too have been going to God in some of these things. It just hit me that maybe what He is wanting to teach me is a relationship…I know that is so " church " but my history with relationships isn't good. Very unhealthy growing up etc.
It is like He is taking me down to the raw and mundane tasks of everyday living and inviting me to know Him there..yes..the suffering always draws us closer but like you I want to turn to Him like I would my best friend, spouse or the closest human relationship that I have on earth. I know none of this is making sense but thank you for writing this because it has caused me to think more about this…
I've struggled with depending on God, which means, I have struggled with trusting God. But, I've come to find that depending on myself doesn't get me near as far as depending on Him. I've learned to practice steady surrendering. Offering up the little things daily so that when the big things come, I know just what to do: trust Him.
As much as I dread going through difficult times, in hindsight it is always the season of the most spiritual growth. Much is gained through God when much is lost. Wisdom while worth more than riches, comes at a heavy worldly expense…
The wisdom beyond your years is showing…
Oh, I agree, Floyd. The most difficult time in my marriage was when we didn't know how we were going to meet our bills, but it was during that time that I really learned what it means for God to provide. I wouldn't want to go through that period again, but, at the same time, I know our marriage wouldn't be where it is today if we hadn't.
"I do believe I need to learn how to surrender in the everyday." Yes. Loved this. Sanctification is a process and sometimes it is minute by minute for me. I am right there with you, friend. Great post.
I'm good at depending on God when it is more of just a lean into and not something I truly need.
I can feel the emotion in this post, Jennifer.
From my experience I feel God nearer when I am in severe heartache, When I lost my daughter there just wasn't anyone else to turn to. I couldn't make it better myself, my husband couldn't change it, neither finances or medicine… I think God would like us to rely on Him in the lighter trials of life — why don't I?
Thought provoking post — gives me something to ponder and hopefully change my actions.
Thank you for sharing. I can't imagine losing a child and imagine that only God could heal (does it ever heal?) that wound. I guess during those lighter seasons in our life, we just forget how much we really need God.
Thank you for this post I really needed it this morning.
I'm glad it helped! Thanks for visiting!