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Sunday, December 12, 2004

Total Reliance on God

This morning, I watched a little of an interview of Joni Eareckson Tada on TV and was struck with something she said on the program.

Joni was still a teenager when a ski diving accident left her a quadriplegic. She fought bitterly and determinedly to be healed, but after years of battle she never got better physically, although spiritually, mentally and emotionally she became a giant in many ways. She started Joni and Friends, a ministry aimed at giving hope and wholeness to the disabled. Now, years later, she continues to impact the world, giving encouragement and inspiration to both disabled as well as "able-bodied" people alike.

On TV this morning, Joni was asked if she ever felt discouraged with her situation. She answered that some mornings she would wake up to the feeling that she cannot face another day of disability, another day of someone having to come in to groom her, to dress her and assist her into her wheelchair. She said she just had to stop and ask God for strength to be able to go through another painful day.

When I heard Joni said that, I told my wife that it is exactly the attitude we need to get to in order to learn total reliance on God for our daily lives. For if I do not go through each day and each situation realizing that within my own self, I have no resources to make it through the day, I have failed to understand what it means to rely totally on God.

We have in the most part grown too independent, self-reliant and self-sufficient that when we awake each day we forget that without God we can do nothing. On the one hand, there is something to be said about feeling the courage and confidence that we have in the strength of Christ, and yet on the other hand, we have to realize the full import of the meaning of Philippians 4:13. When we confess, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," we are confessing the corollary, found in John 15:7 " 5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

It is more than just thinking I don't have enough resources to make it. That every now and then, I need to cry out for assistance from on high. I have to come to the realization that I need Him and need His strength, power and grace for each and every moment, and for each task. I have to come to the point where I dare not get up from bed each morning unless His Spirit sends me a fresh anointing of His power and grace to go on. Until I have learned that, until I understand and realize that it is a total dependence upon God each moment of the day, I don't know what it means to rely on God.

What does this mean in practice? Am I to supposed to feel impoverished and powerless, walking around with a huge inferiority complex hanging over my head? Or am I supposed to exude confidence and strength, walking around like my daddy owns the cattle on a thousand hills? Which is it?

Joni says when she awakes in the morning, she feels she cannot go on any longer. She needs to reach out to God and ask for another dose of strength, stamina and courage to go on. Yet, she seems to have it together. Even though she sits there in a wheelchair, when Joni speaks, her presence dominates the entire room. You can tell that this is a woman who has been touched by the Almighty. Her words inspires, her faith encourages, and her enthusiasm infuses hope and courage. That I believe illustrates what we must be like in our dependence upon God. We need to do so not just morning by morning, but moment by moment, having the utter realization of our abject need for God to keep us going. Yet, at the same time, we need to draw upon the strength, grace and power from the Holy Spirit to flow through us to encourage and uplift those around us so that God's blessing can touch them.

That is the kind of faith God has called us to, a paradoxical balancing act that is the adventure of our journey with our Lord. May God teach me to walk in it faithfully.