I picked my older girls up from the weekend camp and breathed a mom sigh of relief at the sight of them.
They survived without me.
They had on slightly crazy outfits despite my careful planning as we packed their bags days before. “Mom, I ran out of shorts and play-clothes,” they tell me.
Their cheeks were a little red from too little sunscreen, but not truly burnt. (Hadn’t I fretted all weekend about sunscreen application?)
They tried Mountain Dew for the first time.
I opened up those suitcases at home and shook my head at the wet swimsuit and towel folded in there with the rest of their clothes.
But, really, all things considered it’d been two-and-a-half days without mom and they had made a million little decisions and done just fine.
Sometimes you gotta let them grow up. Maybe it’s harder for us moms than it is for them.
I hear it all the time.
“I can do it myself, Mom.”
Little bursts of independence from these ‘babes’ and that includes the nine-month-old, who wants to feed himself and make his very own decisions about where to go, when to go, and what to put in his mouth.
This is my job as a mom, to love them into independence, teach them how to do and what to do on their own.
But that’s not God’s desire for me as my Father, not His parental mission or responsibility. He’s doing the opposite, wooing my independent heart into trust and showing me the lesson of the vine:
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5 NIV).
This abiding life, the never separating from God, never stepping out on my own and depending on my own strengths or abilities sounds so simple.
It takes effort to remain in Him.
Dependence after all can feel so uncomfortable, so helpless, so out of control, so uncertain.
But Jesus didn’t say, “Apart from me you can do small things, but not the big stuff.” Nor did He say, “Apart from me you can be okay, but with me you can be extraordinary.”
He said that without Him, we can’t do a thing. Anything. Not the big stuff. Not the small things.
In the same way, Lisa Harper says, “We can become more dependent on God by trusting Him with the full weight of our lives” (Stumbling Into Grace 165).
When I consider the “full weight” of my life, I realize just how often I stroll along carrying most things on my own. It’s only the big cumbersome packages of circumstances that I hand over to God.
Sometimes we have no choice but dependence. We’ve exhausted ourselves in independent efforts and faced the fullness of our weakness.
Most of us have been there. The stress of overwhelming circumstances breaks us down and we know that what we face is simply too much, too impossible and too weighty to handle on our own. We’d be crushed.
So, we turn to God. That’s all that’s left to do. As Paul said, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We declare dependence, we trust in His strength alone to help us through, and for a short season we have no choice but to rest in Him.
Yet, we have a way of confining God’s direction to “important” life matters. When it comes to where to live, our job, our relationships, our marriages, our health, and other huge life decisions, we pray frantically for God’s will and for direction and wisdom.
But when it’s a matter of those everyday life details like our schedule, our eating and spending habits, our conversations, and our tasks at work or home, we tend to think we can handle that “all by myself.”
Apart from Him, all by myself, I make things more difficult, I make a big mess, I miss out on blessing, I reject obedience, and I can do nothing.
This is the lesson of dependence, the learning to listen, learning to respond to that gentle nudging of the Spirit all day, every day.
This is the Spirit-led life: Yielding, loosening the grip, and giving over control.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King