A question arises among Christians about how dependent we should be on God. One saying goes, “God helps those who help themselves.” Others suggest we are to do all we can before we call for God’s help. Yet others suggest we should abandon ourselves on God. Many feel as if God’s help is only theoretical, so they have to live by their wits, without expecting anything from God.
What does the Bible show us about how we rely on God?
One metaphor is that of God and Jesus as our Shepherd and us as God’s sheep.
“Recognise it is the Lord who is God. It is he who made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
“The Lord is my shepherd” Psalm 23:1
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11
Consider the difference in capacity and standing between a sheep and the shepherd. They are vastly different. Consider the sheep deciding to get rid of their shepherd and run the flock based on a committee of the smartest sheep. Is that even remotely possible?
The shepherd is so vastly superior to the sheep that it will never be possible for sheep to displace the shepherd. The shepherd understands things and takes responsibility for things far outside the understanding of the sheep.
The best any sheep can do is be under a good shepherd and totally trust the shepherd. If the sheep were to go it alone there would be no hope of protection or provision.
The sheep have to trust their shepherd, even when he leads them along a dry and rocky path. The shepherd knows where that path leads but all the sheep know is that they don’t like walking that way. The sheep have to get up from lying on green grass and follow the shepherd, even though they would rather stay and enjoy that lovely place. The shepherd knows how close it is to dark and how long it will take to get back to the sheep fold.
If the sheep were left in charge they would end up scattered and lost, in danger, or hungry. Sheep are basically helpless.
With that metaphor in mind, how are we to relate to God? Do we take charge of things and only call on God when things don’t go as we planned? Do we imagine that God is not there and just get on with life the best we can? Do we stop and analyse everything we think God might be saying and use our own wisdom to plan our way? Do we form a committee and take the majority opinion?
Or do we become Wonderfully Helpless?
Another metaphor for our relationship with God is that of God as our Father. This brings to mind the dependence of a child on their Daddy.
I recall when I was probably four years old getting my boot stuck in mud. I was close enough to home to see my dad working in the front yard, but far enough that my voice could barely carry to him. I called out to him repeatedly until he looked up, saw me and came walking down the dirt track to lift me out of the mud.
As a child we don’t have to understand family economics, or how to plan a holiday, or how to manage food in the cupboard, or anything else. We do as we are told and our parents worry about a host of things we might not understand until we have a family of our own.
Children are Wonderfully Helpless.
Of course, they don’t stay that way. Parents train children to take more and more responsibility and be increasingly aware of their world and how to manage themselves within that world. Yet the parents are there to oversee things, especially in each new level of learning and growth.
With the metaphor of Father and Child in mind, how are we to relate to God? Do we take charge of things and only call on God when things don’t go as we planned? Do we imagine that God is not there and just get on with life the best we can? Do we stop and analyse everything we think God might be saying and use our own wisdom to plan our way? Do we form a committee of our siblings and take the majority opinion?
Sadly, in some dysfunctional homes, children have to become the effective parents, caring for themselves and others, because the parents are absent, lost in their drugged state, or otherwise not effective.
In God’s family our Heavenly Father understands things far beyond what we could ever know. He is as far above His children as a Shepherd is above the sheep. No human understanding can possibly displace the knowing and wisdom of God.
So, once again the best place for us to be is that of being Wonderfully Helpless.
Whatever we do in our own wisdom and strength, working things out as best they suit us, and analysing things the best way we can, will be like a sheep looking around and trying to make a wise decision for the flock, or a young child trying to plan things for the family.
How, then, do we practice being Wonderfully Helpless? The first step is to commit ourself to looking to God and relying on Him. Tell God that you want to be led by Him, and cared for by Him like a lamb or young child. Repent of trying to run your own life you own way and call on God to forgive you, to teach you and to lead you into total dependence on Him.
Then keep asking God to speak to you, by impressions and promptings, but also through understanding God’s ways from the Bible.
Pay particular attention to things that take away your peace. Let God’s peace in your heart be a compass to move you forward or stop your steps.
And then practice relying on God, being led by Him and going His ways. This is quite a journey, and people have various experiences of knowing God’s guidance in their lives. In all of it I urge you to seek to be and to enjoy being Wonderfully Helpless.