Rest in dependence

Rest in dependence.jpg

When we pursue independence, we breed fear. When we rest in dependence, we bear fruit.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
— Jeremiah 17:7-8

Ungodly fear

For long seasons of my life, I’ve been afraid.

I’ve been afraid of my life falling to pieces; that all of the wonderful things I’ve enjoyed and cherished will be whisked away as punishment for my past failure and I’ll be left with nothing. I wallow around in the countless possible scenarios of my demise. Instead of standing in the bright and certain hope of my future, I cower in the murky shadow of my past. Forever crippled by the threat of tomorrow.

This fear is not the product of godly, open- handed surrender. It is the consequence of a sinful, white-knuckled grip on control. A subliminal pursuit of it that threatens to waste years of life to the fear of ruin; souring even the very best moments with the dread that all will soon be lost. It is evidence of a drifting heart, of sapping forgetfulness, of a failure to remember that the Lord is the source of my hope and confidence - not me fighting to hold everything together, going it alone, wilting in the desert of my self-sufficiency.

Just as a tree is defined by its need for water, so I am defined by my need for God - dependence that makes me strong beyond measure. Because surrendering control is the doorway to confidence; affirming weakness is the window to strength; faithful dependence is the source of life.

This is no abstract, wooly sentiment. It is the most profoundly practical and liberating truth that will shape your life from the ground up.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

My relationship with God wasn’t ever intended to be likened to a series of transactional negotiations with a detached public official - one I must convince in order to secure the right visa for a good future. Prayer isn’t an opportunity to supplement my comfortable independence.

No. I was designed by Him to be connected to Him. To live in union with Him. To enjoy walking with Him. For Him to be the source of my strength, my confidence, my identity.

Because when I remember who I am in Him, I remember that I don’t need to carry the burden of my future, I don’t need to fear it, I don’t need to fight for God’s favour in it. He is already working all things for my good and His glory.

I need only trust Him in the quiet stillness and peaceful closeness of prayerful surrender, rest in His presence and welcome His grace - to put my roots deep into the life- giving water of intimacy with Him.

Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.
— Isaiah 30:15

That is the place from which blessing flows. The relationship that eradicates fear.

With Him, I am free to let go of the burden of control and lay it at His feet. I am free to enjoy all that He has called me to be and given me to do. I am free to be still and know.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
— Psalm 46:10

Prayerful weakness: the window to strength

Only when we trust God in the quiet stillness of prayerful surrender, rest in His presence and welcome His grace can we begin to see the strength hidden in our weakness - our helplessness as the source of our confidence.

“Many people get into situations where they feel so destitute and helpless that they don’t want to pray. Prayer, however, is made for those who have no other recourse, no other resort. In some ways, prayer is simply connecting Jesus to your absolute helplessness, your sense of fragility and dependence. To pray is to accept that we are, and always will be, wholly dependent on God for everything.” Tim Keller.

Our dependence is the source of our strength. Our surrender is the beginning of our courage. Following Jesus is fundamentally about surrender and dependence.

Trusting Him means surrendering our delusions of strength, goodness and control, and acknowledging our weakness and complete dependence on Him. Only when we affirm our weakness can we celebrate the grace that makes us strong.

Because we were never made to be independent.

“We were formed to be dependent on the One who made us, and we were re-created in Jesus Christ to be dependent on His grace.

God does not hold you to a standard of independent strength. God does not expect of you what you do not have.

He knows who you are. He is never shocked or dismayed by your weakness. He has moved toward you in grace because you are weak and would have no hope in life and death without Him.” Paul Tripp.

Bold as a lion

Experiencing the liberating joy of surrendering independence, knowing the peace of quiet stillness in the presence of God, and learning to live diligently in the freedom of grace is slowly teaching me to be as bold as a lion.

The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.
— Proverbs 28:1

If I have confessed my sin to God and repented of it, my account is settled. I am right with Him through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If I have surrendered control over to Him I can stand and face Him. I do not have to look back over my shoulder in fear anymore. If my sins are covered by God’s grace my past will not be pursuing me, only goodness and mercy, and for all the days of my life.

I am free to honour Him with my daily trust and delight in Him; to live diligently for Him, serving Him in the big things and the small; and to reveal my love for Him in all that I think and say and do. I am free to follow the longing to turn from my sin, not because what I do has any power to buy my way out of His debt, but because I love Him.

My responsibility isn’t to hold it all together, achieve my ambitions and avoid my fears. My responsibility is to believe and act, trust and obey.

Jesus paid it all

After a long season of wilting in self- sufficiency and breeding fear through the pursuit of independence, we can begin to become comfortable with being afraid. Fear becomes familiar. Abandoning the leaden life raft that we have hung on to for so long is unthinkable. We think that if we cling to it, we can at least control it. But we cannot. We must surrender it to Jesus.

Close your eyes and let go of your independence. Cling instead to Him.

You don’t need to be afraid of intimacy with Him, because you were made for it. You can’t go it alone, because He is the source of your life.

If you have been adopted into His family, you don’t need to doubt your standing before Him. You are free to enjoy a beautiful relationship with Him, forever free from condemnation by Him. He sees you fully, He knows you fully, and He loves you fully.

Whether you might feel like it or not - you are right with Him.
You need only remember what is already true.
There are no bills due for your sin. You are now free simply to trust and obey. You already have His complete acceptance.
The currency of your self-pity is invalid - it doesn’t accomplish anything because Jesus already did everything.

You have no reason to fear the intimacy of closing your eyes in the presence of God, releasing your grip on control and allowing Him to be the source of your hope and confidence - a source of strength greater than anything that could ever be found within you.

Just trust Him. He isn’t out to get you. He isn’t waiting for you to return to Him only so He can punish you. He loves you.

He doesn’t forgive on our broken human terms, with unspoken bitterness forever lingering in the peripheries.

He really, truly, fully forgives.

Our sin is bigger than anything we could ever comprehend. But His grace is bigger still.

‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’
— Isaiah 1:18
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
— Psalm 86:5
I, yes, I alone, will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
— Isaiah 43:25
Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
— Micah 7:19
I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.
— Jeremiah 31:34

Rest in this truth.
Let it wash over you.
He really is truly for you.

You really can trust Him.
You don’t need to run anymore.
You were made to be connected to Him.

A tree planted on a riverbank.
Roots reaching deep into the water.
Resting, growing, fruitful.

Know the true source of your life.
Turn from your sin and live for Him.

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