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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Learning to lean - it is harder than it looks!

Some of us might equate dependence to some "mamby-pamby" way of living in which we cannot do or think anything on our own.  On the contrary, dependence requires more thought and determination than you might first imagine.  What some consider to be dependence is nothing more than passive complacency and apathy.  What God considers to be dependence is actually a place of active submission and obedience.  Obedience requires forethought and continuous thought - passive complacency does not.  Obedience requires trust and truth - passive complacency is satisfied with the status quo or the easiest route possible.  This life of truly trusting God and living in total dependence upon him is something which requires active thought, leading to active participation, and ending in active renewal.  The key to dependence is then "action", not passivity.

God, you give true peace to people who depend on you, to those who trust in you. So trust the Lord always, because in the Lord you have a place of safety forever.  Honesty is the path good people follow.  They follow the path that is straight and true.  And God, you make that way smooth and easy to follow.  At night my soul longs to be with you, and the spirit in me wants to be with you at the dawn of every new day.  (Isaiah 26:3-4, 7, 9 ERV)

To those who depend upon God - actively choosing to trust in him instead of their own strength or self-performance - God gives something we all long for but which somehow avoids us:  True Peace.  Dependence really starts at the point of trust.  Trusting God's truth revealed in his Word rather than our own thoughts about matters is something we learn over the course of our time walking with Jesus.  Trusting God's provision for our salvation as the sole means by which we are saved and placed in "right-standing" with him requires us to embrace truth, standing on it and nothing we can do or produce on our own.  Trusting God to give us the direction we need when we are walking in unfamiliar territory in this journey we call life begins in embracing the truth he reveals in the wise places we seek his truth.  If you don't see the pattern here, let me point it out:  It all begins and ends with TRUTH.  Depending upon God begins and ends with TRUTH.  God is TRUTH - therefore, all we receive from him is truth.  All we stand upon is truth.  All we rely upon is truth.  

Trust is built on truth.  Without truth, all other foundations are simply unreliable and capable of crumbling at some point.  Anything which is not total truth will eventually all apart.  A child depends upon the parent to provide all he needs for his well-being.  Whether it is food, shelter, or loving arms, the child looks to the parent as his place of trust.  Whenever that trust is violated by the parent, the child is left with lots of confused and mixed up emotional baggage he often carries into his adult years.  Why?  He placed his total trust in the parent.  Trust is "placed" - we choose to rely upon another. Trust is not forced upon us - it is something we make a conscious decision to give.  When we walk across a shaky structure, we choose to believe it will support our weight despite its shakiness.  We are making a conscious decision to move from one side to the other, depending upon (relying upon) this structure to get us there.  It matters not that it appears less than reliable, because we are choosing to place our trust in it.  This is where many of us get into a place of difficulty in our daily walk - we are choosing to place our trust in things, people, and circumstances which are at best a little "shaky" and probably not entirely trustworthy.

The truth is the boards of the shaky structure have been worn by weather, causing nails which once held it firm and reliable to become loosened and rusted.  If we recognized the truth before we took the first step of depending upon the shaky structure, we probably wouldn't venture out onto it!  We'd recognize weathered boards and rusty nails make for a rather unreliable support for our needs.  What if the structure was "whitewashed" in bright paint - covering over those weathered places and rusted nails?   We might be "duped" into believing the weathering and rusting doesn't exist - right?  This is where we come to believe what we see rather than relying upon what we know to be consistently true.  God's Word is consistently true - to rely upon anything which gets added to it, or taken away from it is like whitewashing a lie.  It appears to be reliable, but it will fall apart under careful scrutiny!  This is why I so consistently remind us of the importance of getting to know God's Word for ourselves - not just relying upon what another man or woman tells us the Word says.  We need to ferret out truth for ourselves, adding it to our "trust bank" so we will be able to recognize untruth when it is in front of us as a whitewashed lie!

A true and straight path is the result of knowing and embracing truth.  Truth is the basis of trust.  They go hand in hand - you cannot have one without the other.  If we want our path to be well-guided, secure, and filled with God's peace which passes all understanding, we need to allow that path to be guided by his truth.  This means we submit our decisions to his truth - what does the Word of God have to say about what we are about to do?  If we don't know, we may be going out on some pretty shaky ground!  When the Word doesn't come right out and make it "plain" as to what we should do (as can be the case with some of the things we might encounter in this life like whether we buy and iPad or a Windows tablet), we just need to trust the consistency of God's principles taught throughout.  In other words, our decisions should not violate God's principles of truth.  Now, back to which tablet to purchase.  God doesn't give us that direction in his Word, but he does give us principles of being wise with our money, not being caught up in the trends of the day which lure us into debt we cannot afford, etc.  This is as close as we come to understanding which tablet to purchase.  The one which will perform for us at the optimal measure we expect and can afford is probably the one we should be buying!

Anytime we confuse truth with a lie, our path gets a little rocky.  Obedience is burdensome to those who are expecting truth to be easy stuff!  Truth is learned - believed in our minds, confirmed in our hearts, trusted in our emotions.  Truth is not a "thing" - it is a person - Christ Jesus!  As long as we understand this we will be more open to examining all "truth" in light of what he says, does, is, etc.  Now, back to dependence.  We rely upon a whole lot of things in this life - some out of our control, others quite easily under our control.  God expects that we will take both and place them under his control. In turn, we are "trusting" him to guide us down straight and smooth paths which are outlined by him.  Nothing makes dependence easy - but learning to trust God begins in the moments of submitting our thoughts, actions, and emotions to his careful oversight.  Dependence is active obedience.  All our actions should be leaning heavily upon truth - just sayin!