Posted by: Mike Willoughby | February 16, 2011

A Roller Coaster Life for Dependence

I wonder how many of you who read A Roller Coaster Life by Design last week were more aware of life’s ups and downs as you rode the “roller coaster” over the past week?  I know I have been more in tune with my own ups and downs as I have been thinking and preparing to write this article.  I think this is a good thing since my ability to respond to a given situation begins with awareness of where I am emotionally, physically and spiritually in that situation.  Last week, I made the statement that I believe “God has chosen to use our challenging lives to make us better people.  I have found in my life that the very best features and the scariest moments of the ride are there for His purposes.  I believe in everything the designer has our best interests in mind when he designed the ride of life!”

Does this mean that every good and bad thing that happens in my life is micro-managed by God in advance?  I don’t believe that is the case.  Please see my Open Doors article for a more in-depth discussion of God’s will at work in our lives.  I do believe there are certain events that happen in my life that are directed by God for His divine purposes and there are many other events that He permits to happen based on choices that I make and the choices others in my life make.  In any case, God is in charge in my life and I believe He has a purpose for every situation that I encounter no matter how significant or immaterial; no matter how devastatingly horrible or ecstatically wonderful; no matter how impactful or inconsequential.  I believe His purpose in all situations begins with reinforcing within me awareness of my utter and complete dependence on God for everything in life!

I think our dependence upon God is most obvious to us in the tough times.  When life’s roller coaster takes one of those unanticipated swerves or dips, we turn to God for support and comfort especially when there are no obvious answers for the question we often ask in tough situations – Why me, Lord?  Even when we don’t know why something bad has happened to us, we can know there is a purpose for the trial we are going through.  One of God’s purposes for tough times in life is to reinforce our dependence on God.  Paul makes this clear in II Corinthians 1:8-10.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia.  For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.   He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

Paul and his companions had been through some really challenging situations in the mission field.  Some of these tough times are cataloged later in II Corinthians and included forcible evictions, beatings, shipwrecks and a stoning that nearly killed Paul.  Paul recognized that the outcome of these sufferings was a greater dependence on God for sustenance during those tough times.  After all if trials take us all the way to the brink of death, who better to turn to than the one who has the power to raise the dead?  With God on our side, even death does not cause us to lose faith!

As common as it may be for us to turn to God in tough times, perhaps it is equally uncommon for us to turn to God in good times.  This is a real shame and may unmask a serious lack of faith on our part.  It’s even possible that when we do not acknowledge our dependence on God and give him the credit and the glory for the good times, we may risk losing everything!  I believe we replicate Adam and Eve’s original sin when we arrogantly place ourselves at the center of our little universes through our supposed self-sufficiency and independence.  From our perspective within the façade of power and security, we are the Lord of our lives rather than depending on God to be the center of our universe.  This temptation is most real when we are basking in the warm glow of success. 

I cringe when I hear a believer who has experienced success in this life claim to be a “self-made man.”  What arrogance it takes for such a person to claim they are independently responsible for their individual success!  What about the people in their life that made their success possible?  What about parents, teachers, preachers, work associates, family and friends?  Even if there are no such influential people in their life and they figuratively rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a disadvantaged beginning, where is the credit that God deserves for even placing them in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that led to their success?  Jesus spoke of just such a “self-made” man in a parable from Luke 12:13-21:

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’  And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

What is the difference between a rich fool and a righteous rich man?  It comes down to his attitude about the source of his success!  One such righteous rich man was a man named Job who is introduced to us in Job 1:1-5:

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.  There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.  He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.  His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.   And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Does this mean Job was protected from trials and suffering because he had the correct attitude?  Read the rest of Job to find out.  The lesson of Job is whether in good times or in tough times, we should acknowledge the simple reality of our complete dependence on God.  That is the only way to look after our souls and not replicate the mistake of the rich fool.

I am a blessed man in most every respect.  I have a great job, an amazing wife and great kids, a fantastic extended family with a rich heritage, wonderful friends, the best church family around and I have all I need to live a comfortable life.  I live life in the sunlight of His blessings every day.  To God be the glory! 

And when the rain comes…

…to God be the glory even more!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Previous Intersections Articles

A Roller Coaster Life by Design Going Viral (Part 3) Going Viral (Part 2)

Responses

  1. Hello Mike,

    Remember I am not of your faith, but we believe in a lot of the same things, the backbone of mine is the Ten Commandments.

    I believe God does not want us to be dependent on him. He is their for us and listens to us, the writings about him, provides a source of your faith. I think he wants us to be independent.

    Not all individuals turn to God only in bad times, but what you say is a universal truth. My wife said ” please God make my dog better and I will do volunteer work ”

    A deal with God, if the dog did not get better God was not listening? If the dog got better god was listening. Two people in two separate parts of the world making the same request or shall I say making the same deal with God and one dog lives and the another not, how do we explain it?

    Mike, i feel we , us, you and me are in charge of our lives. Our strong belief in God is just another form of our strong inner belief in ourselves. Our belief in God making something happen, is a deeper belief that we can do it. When we prevail it is because we try harder, we do things with more conviction than the next person.

    Not sure about this thing called ” luck ” that is for another time.

    Yes in tough times when we ask God for help, not everyone does, some look in the mirror and say “Honig you just better try harder, you just better do the right thing today and even remind yourself that you better not eat that candy bar”

    When we ask God for help and feel he is listening, when we are praying, some pleading, I think it is we are perservering, and i think that is tantamount to drawing on our deep inner belief in ourself…….like my song ” with his last ounce of courage ” ( The Impossible Dream ) I will tell you about that next time.

    have a great week

    Alan

    • Thanks for the comments, Alan. The perseverance comment is a great segue for next week’s article. I hope you have a great week as well!
      Mike


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