The last time I went to a youth rally, the speaker’s lesson could be summed up in one sentence: “Rely on God, and you’ll be fine.”
Really? No way! I had no clue that’s what I was supposed to be doing all this time I’ve been a Christian! Thanks for clearing that up for me! The thing about the lesson I heard at the youth rally is that’s where the application ended—at almost zero. He told me to rely on God, but he didn’t bother to tell me HOW.
I don’t think this is exclusively a youth problem. In the church in general it seems like we often love to pull out these elusive “feel good” statements. Rely on God. Be an example. Love one another. Take the sin out of your life. These are all very simple statements, but the concepts they describe are much bigger than the words representing them. You can tell someone to bake a cake all day long, but if she doesn’t know how, it’s not going to happen until you tell her how. Good thing we have a pretty extensive instruction book. I don’t know about you, but I want to rely on God. So how do I do it?
Check out Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” I would think trust goes along with reliance, wouldn’t you? Note the contrast here—it’s important. God tells us NOT to rely on ourselves, but rather TO rely on Him. The New Testament weighs in too—take a look at 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Casting your anxiety on Someone who cares for you… that’s reliance, isn’t it? But if you look at the phrase directly before, it’s clearly talking about humility. Let’s talk about that for a minute.
To quote the marvelous C.S. Lewis, “Thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools.” However, this isn’t how God sees humility. If you have the time, go ahead and read the whole book of Philippians. In case you don’t have the time, I’ll sum it up real quick. The main problem with the church at Philippi was selfishness—it was causing disunity, complaining, quarrels, all kinds of issues. So in Philippians 2:3, Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Did you catch that? Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself in regard to some kind of gold standard, it’s thinking less of yourself in regard to others.
So let’s bring this tangent back around. If humility in general is putting others first, then humbling yourself to God would have to be putting Him first in your life. Our basic human tendency is to put ourselves in that position, but humility involves a switch. It involves taking ourselves out of the position of trust and putting God there instead. Wait a second, trust? We said before that was reliance, right? I told you the contrast in Proverbs was important.
Here’s the bottom line: relying on God isn’t just some kind of emotional dependency when things get tough. It’s not a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s the deliberate action of taking yourself out of the position of control in your life and putting God there instead. What better Pilot could we possibly have? There’s no way God’s going to steer us wrong if we let Him take the wheel.
So I’m going to end where I started: Rely on God, and you’ll be fine.
By Melissa Hite
Melissa (age 16) attends Bear Valley church of Christ with her parents, Michael and Lynn, and her little brother, Matthew. Her goals include continually growing closer to God and eventually becoming a writer and a mom. On her blog, Christ Crossed My Heart, you can find other poignant, well-written posts.