We’re excited to welcome Mercy staff, Kate! This week, Kate writes about the topic of dependence and how she’s learned the importance of being dependent in the Lord. Thank you, Kate, for the wisdom you bring and boldly sharing this message!
The message of our culture is one of independence. We often hear phrases like, “you are as strong as you want to be,” “don’t be needy,” “you don’t need to depend on anyone,” “asking for help shows weakness.” I don’t know about you, but I hear these phrases and something inside me almost feels empowered. But if there is anything the Lord has been teaching me in the last year, it’s that He calls us as Christians to live counter-culturally. We are to live a life in complete dependence on Him. This truth is very humbling, and if I’m being honest and vulnerable, hard for me to swallow at times.
Who doesn’t love a good personality test? I have taken several over the years, and every one tells me some version of the same thing: I love to help people. I gain energy and find purpose when I feel like I’m able to make someone else happy, encourage him or her, or help in some way. That sounds like a good thing, right? Well, I’m learning that for me, when sin takes over it can turn into a form of pride and manipulation. I can easily start to find my identity in how good a friend I am, or how intentional I’ve been that week, instead of finding my identity in Christ alone. I will be the first to help YOU, but you help ME? Nah, I don’t need help. It gives me anxiety just to think about asking for help or admitting I can’t do something.
I was listening to a sermon a few weeks ago, and I was convicted that this tendency to want to be independent and self-reliant doesn’t just appear with my earthly relationships. This mindset has impacted my relationship with the Lord as well. Jesus says in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” I can do no Christ-exalting good apart from Christ. Let that sink in for a moment. My desire to help others and see them succeed is meaningless without Christ. It doesn’t matter how good my intentions are, I will fail every time without Christ. I grew up in the church and have read this verse hundreds of times, but it’s one thing to have the head knowledge. It’s something completely different to have it resonate deep within your heart.
Neediness for God is not a design flaw. Despite what culture says, we were not designed to be self-operating. We were designed to “abide in Him.” Our prayer life is a great indicator of how well we are operating in dependence of God. When we pray we are openly admitting that we need help, and without Christ, we can do nothing. So I want to challenge you today, like my pastor challenged me a few weeks ago. How much are you praying? How little are you praying? What things are you praying for? Because the things you are praying for are the areas you are recognizing you need help in. When you don’t give an area of your life over to the Lord in prayer, you are saying that you have it under control.
I have found that as much as I love to pour into others and help them, I must take care of myself first. If I am not staying connected to the Father in prayer, I will have nothing to give to others either. We flourish when we exercise our will not independently from Christ but in the context of a dependent relationship with God. When we stay connected to the life source that is Christ Jesus, that is true freedom.