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Friday, December 16, 2011

Deprived or Dependent?


 Don't ever deprive me of truth, not ever—your commandments are what I depend on.  Oh, I'll guard with my life what you've revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; and I'll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; then I'll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed.   I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them—relishing every fragment of your counsel.
(Psalm 119:43-48 The Message)

Have you ever been deprived of something you depend on?  I remember wrestling with my brother as a kid.  He is 11 years older, so it was never really a "fair" wrestling match!  He'd pin me down with his full body weight, tickling me to tears, and I would find myself laughing so hard that'd I almost felt like I'd lose my breath at any moment.  I'd wriggle harder, trying to escape his clutch.  He'd just tickle more!  

I used to think this was like being deprived of air until I actually experienced it on the softball field one day.  I went up for a fly ball, landing flat on my back - causing the air to be pushed out of my lungs.  The force of the blow sent my lungs into a "spasm" of sorts - sports players know this as getting the air knocked out of you.  There I lay, struggling to take a breath in, panic beginning to rise with each seemingly never-ending second.  

The coach said I was without air for about a minute or two, but not much more.  It seemed an eternity to me!  Why did I think hours had passed when only minutes had?  Why was my coach calm and my response was one of panic?  Simply put - perspective!  She was still breathing!  I wasn't!  I was experiencing the pain - she was "coaching" me through!  What a difference it makes in how we "interpret" the circumstances based on the perspective we have within those circumstances!

We all depend on air.  When we are deprived of it, our body sets off a series of responses designed to help us get air into our bodies.  When we cannot because of the circumstances, the adrenaline released begins to send us into that fight or flight response we sometimes equate with panic.  To our psalmist, God's truth (his Word) was something he learned to equate to much as he equated to "breath" - he could not be deprived of it!  In fact, he earnestly pleads with God to never deprive him of it because he had come to depend on it so much!

Deprivation is always equated with dependency.  We won't feel deprived if we have never developed an dependency.  If you have never tasted chocolate, developing a "taste" for it, you won't feel deprived of it when it is not available to you.  David had developed a "taste" for God's Word and the regular intake of it.  He was dependent on it for his every move - so much so that he would guard losing it!

Not only would he guard losing it completely, but I believe because he had developed a dependency on God's Word he would guard against something "robbing" him of the regular intake of the Word.  Not having God's Word to guide his steps, give him strength in times of struggle, or to build him up when he fails, was like depriving him of air.  I wonder if we have the same dependency upon God's Word.  Do we relish the Word - enjoy it, feel pleasure in the discovery of what is contained there?  

Babies are dependent upon their regular intake of a mother's milk for their development.  If they are deprived of it long enough, what do they do?  They cry out!  Even if we see ourselves as "babes" just taking in God's Word, we want a regular intake!  Deprive us of intake and we begin to feel the effects!  It is not long before we begin to cry out!  As we grow a little older in our Christian faith, developing the ability to take in "meat", we still depend upon the Word - we just don't need it so "digested" for us to enjoy its intake!

Whether babes, toddlers, teen, or mature - we cannot be deprived of that which we need for life.  If you take something in long enough, you become dependent upon it.  It is in the development of the "habit" of turning to God's Word that we develop a dependency on its counsel.