The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Practicing Dependency: Appreciating the Wisdom of God

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

When a pilot tries to decide whether or not it’s a good time to take a flight, what does he do? He checks the weather report. He checks his fuel. He checks some routine mechanical parts. The pilot then makes a decision to fly based on what he knows. The weather looks good. His gas tank is full. The engine seems sound. But what the pilot doesn’t realize is that one of the wings of his plane has a severe crack in it which is going to cause the whole wing to snap off if the pilot attempts lift off. In this scenario, what the pilot doesn’t know is the most important information of all.

Or take the woman who starts up her car in the morning. When she fires up the engine, she doesn’t see any warning lights on her dash. She sees that there is fuel in the tank. The engine sounds normal. Based on these facts, she decides to go for a drive. But what she doesn’t realize is that someone has attached a bomb to the underside of her car, and that bomb is going to go off in thirty seconds. In this scenario, what the woman doesn’t know is far more important than what she does know.

As a human being, you know things. Knowing things is good, but if you don’t know the most important things, how can you make a wise decision? Our pilot is going to crash and our woman is going to get blown up because of their ignorance. It’s not the pilot’s fault that he doesn’t have x-ray vision to see into the structure of his wing. The woman had no way of knowing that she should have checked the underside of her car before getting in. Both of these people are acting reasonably, but they’re still going to end up in a heap of trouble because of their limited knowledge. It’s the same with you. If you try to go through life relying solely on your own limited information, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to end up in a major mess.

One of the reasons God is so much wiser than you are is that He is in possession of all the facts. You might be very smart according to the world’s standards, but no matter how smart you are, you still have a ton of ignorance. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the things you didn’t know weren’t important. A military general doesn’t need to know what peanut butter tastes like in order to make smart decisions on the battlefield—he just needs all the facts about the battle. As a human, you could get along just fine with limited information, as long as you know all of the critical information. But you don’t, and this is where the crisis arises.

The reality is that you’re not just missing a few important facts. You’re missing nearly all of the important facts. If we filled a large book with everything you need to know in order to make a truly wise decision in a particular situation, you would only be aware of one page of that book. The difference between your wisdom and God’s isn’t small, it’s massive. He is intentionally keeping you in a very blind and ignorant state in order to motivate you to practice depending on Him in life. God is like the guide who is leading you through a field that is covered with underground mines. One misstep will blow your leg off, and the only safe path through the field twists and turns all over the place. Without your guide telling you where to put each step, you’re sure to set one of the mines off. In such a situation, how stupid would it be for you to say, “I don’t need your help, I can figure this out by myself”?

So often people insist that they can get through life without depending on the wisdom of God. Instead of turning to God when difficulties arise, they decide that they can handle their problems just fine on their own. Such irreverent attitudes are guaranteed to set land mines off in our faces. God gets mad when His creatures act like they know better than He does. In the Old Testament, we find many examples of God disciplining people for refusing to look to Him for guidance. Israel was supposed to view Yahweh as her King and seek His guidance in every crisis. But of course she didn’t. Instead, she tried to trust in her own wisdom and find security through forming alliances with her God-hating neighbors. Yahweh responded by turning those allies against Israel and causing them to pound her into the ground. Israel wasn’t the only nation to get in trouble with God for being cocky. In the prophetic books, we find Yahweh reaming out the kings of many pagan nations for boasting that they had established their empires all on their own.

Just as your pen can’t write on its own, we humans can’t do anything apart from our Creators. Do you make your heart keep beating? Do you consciously fight off every bacteria that enters your body? Do you make your lungs work?   Do you maintain a sufficient level of oxygen for yourself in the air that you breathe? No, you take all of these things for granted, but God does not. God’s care of you is precise and purposeful. He’s watching over you 24/7 and saving you from countless disasters every day, so it’s more than a little absurd for you to boast that you’re handling life all on your own. When God says we are dependent on Him, He’s talking about the kind of dependency your cell phone has on its battery. Without a power source, your phone can’t function, and without God, you can’t function, either. You need Him not just to provide for you and protect you, but also to help you make wise decisions in life.

It’s when we Christians don’t respect and appreciate the wisdom of God that we go into meltdowns of fear and panic. Depending on what God’s personal plans for you are, you might need to go through some pretty tough refinement experiences. When the first trial comes along, you’re going to look at what God is putting you through and decide that it’s just too hard. An accurate understanding of your own potential is one of those critical pieces of information that you’re missing. As your Creator, God designed you with the capacity to thrive on the path He has chosen for you. But you’re not able to see yourself from His perspective. This is why you freak out when great trials come and decide, “I’ll never make it through this!” God says you will make it, because He can get you through. But you tell God that He can’t, and you honestly think that you know everyone’s limitations better than He does.

This is the great burden of being human: at the same time that we’re utterly foolish, we’re convinced that we’re super smart. This is why we’re always trying to assume the role of God’s advisers in life. Listen to how Christians pray, and it’s one long stream of “do this, do that.” We might be very nice and polite in our requests, but we’re still telling God what to do. Do you want a surgeon taking tips from a six-year-old during your operation? There’s a frightening idea. We Christians need to wake up and realize what a disaster it would be if God really took our advice seriously. While we sit around telling Him what to do, we don’t have the first clue what we’re talking about. Happily, He knows how silly we’re being and He loves us enough to reject our ridiculous suggestions. No, the Holy Spirit isn’t going to force your neighbor to submit to Jesus, so you can stop praying for God to soften your neighbor’s heart. And while you naturally want your cancer tests to come back negative, God might know that being diagnosed with some fatal tumor is the best thing for your spiritual development right now. If we’re going to grow, the day must come when we stop insisting that we know best and start exercising more trust in God’s wisdom. God is infinitely wiser than we are, so we’re hardly taking some big gamble to trust Him. It’s more like we’re choosing not to be utterly stupid by blowing Him off.

In stressful times, it helps to remember that there are three key areas of ignorance that really hamper your judgment: what you really need, what will really happen, and how much God can change you for the better. Demons try to leverage these three insights against you all the time. Take the man who just lost his job. Naturally he goes into a meltdown, but why? Because now he won’t be able to pay his bills, plus he’s afraid that his wife will think he’s a total loser. The man thinks he really needs a steady income, but the man is foolish and God is wise. God knows that the man needs to mature spiritually far more than he needs a steady income and good credit record. God is giving the man what he really needs: a chance to practice trust and dependency. The man is convinced that his wife will hate him for getting fired and maybe even walk out on him, but God knows she won’t because God has been preparing her to be gracious. The man sees unemployment as a terrible thing that can only result in shame and frustration, but God knows that this stretching experience will result in the man having more soul peace and confidence. So while demons try to persuade the man that this is a terrible event which can only result in greater misery, God knows it is a very good turn of events which will greatly benefit the man. When the man pleads with God to get him a new job right away, God keeps saying no because He is dedicated to truly helping the man. The longer the man is unemployed, the more bitter he gets towards God, even though God is proving how much He loves the man by giving him what he really needs. We can all relate to this kind of scenario, for we’ve all grumbled against God for bringing trials into our lives. We’ve all stressed and fretted that our futures will be endlessly bleak because we think we are so much wiser than God. But the fact remains that we’re not wise at all. We’re blind, ignorant little fools who don’t have any hope of making a truly wise decision on our own. Happily for us, we’re not on our own because our Creators never leave us.

So what does it look like to please God with our dependency? Does it mean we should refuse to make a move until we receive some clear word? No, because God’s guidance comes in many forms and often He just isn’t going to give us clear direction. Dependency that pleases God comes down to a soul attitude of, “I know that You are infinitely wiser than I am. I am counting on You to guide me in life, because You’re the only One worthy of absolute trust.”

Suppose you have to make a decision in life and God isn’t giving you any clear direction. What should you do? At some point, you’ll have to go with your gut. Whether your actions please God or not will depend on what motivation is driving you. When forced to choose between two courses of action, one Christian tosses up his hands and says, “Well, I’m not sure that this is the best course of action, but I’m not getting any clear leading one way or the other. So I’m going to go down this road and trust that my loving Shepherd is guiding me.” This is an attitude that pleases God. This guy is acknowledging the limits of his own wisdom, he’s acknowledging God’s Presence with him and he’s trusting in God’s goodness. But another Christian says, “Hey, I’m a smart guy. I’ve analyzed the choices here and I’m sure this is the right one. You can trust me, because I’ve got great instincts.” This is an attitude which displeases God because this Christian is depending on himself and his own wisdom rather than on God. Even though both of these Christians have chosen the same option, the first guy honored God, while the second is in for some discipline. Remember that what really matters to God is not what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it. Soul attitude is what He judges you by, and when He sees that your soul is sincerely seeking to honor Him, you can’t go wrong.

God is never going to make us as wise as He is.  Instead, He wants us to compensate for our lack of wisdom by depending on Him to be wise for us.  God delights in taking care of creatures who cling to Him tightly and cherish Him as their only hope in life.  God hates being treated like some mere assistant or last resort.  This is quite understandable once we realize that, whether we acknowledge it or not, God is the One who is continuously sustaining our existence.  Ask God to help you embrace your total dependency on Him in a way that pleases Him.  We are so blessed to have a Creator who takes such delight in caring for us.

FURTHER READING:
The Mechanics of Spiritual Growth: Four Essential Attitudes
Absolute Trust

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