These three pursuits, depend on God, pray, and do my devotions early, all occurred simultaneously, yet seemed distinct at the time I was going through them. Therefore, rather than treating all three together and progressing chronologically, I'm going to treat each one individually in order to bring out the facets that stood out from each one. So forgive me if we jump around in time a bit in the next few posts.
As I said, I was willing to learn to depend on God. Willing, but clueless.
So I said, "God, it sure would help if I could at least come to feel like I needed to depend on you." And God happily obliged me by introducing a set of circumstances into my life that were designed to be above my capabilities, outside the range of possibility for me, more difficult than I could handle.
"Humph," I thought. "I didn't mean to ask for that."
It started out pretty mild. Things like being uncommonly annoyed at doing the dishes, and having to depend on God for the cheerfulness that I had always taken for granted. When I asked for cheerfulness, I would receive it, but before, it had always been automatically dispensed. Therefore, I had taken the credit for my habitual good humor to myself. I didn't realize how many ways God supplied me with blessings!
Things went along and I have to admit I almost forgot I was supposed to be working on this area of dependence on God. But every so often, a situation would crop up that was beyond me, and I would remember, and try to be a good, docile learner, and get better at this whole dependence thing.
Then came a job opportunity, and I took it without thinking. I was already working two other jobs, but I needed some extra money, and this seemed perfect. However, I didn't consult God about it. I just took it.
The day I was driving in the car to my first day on the job, the Lord convicted me about it. "You didn't find out if this was my will or not, did you? In fact, you didn't even consult me. You didn't wait on me. This was not what I asked you to do, was it?"
I had to admit, "No, it wasn't."
And that job, which was supposed to be a simple, quick project of four months, stretched into seven months of spectacular failure, in which I blew deadlines, frustrated my boss, and fell behind at every step of the way. It wasn't for lack of trying. It wasn't even for lack of aptitude for the position. It was simply and purely a personal fault: I couldn't produce the self-discipline necessary to actually put in working hours and work on the project.
It was around this time that I came to a certain realization: "Me trying is the same as me not trying." It happened this way: All throughout my life, I knew there were certain things I did well (piano, spelling, crochet, etc.) and certain things I did not do so well (swimming, being organized, staying focused, etc.). However, with anything I did not do very well, I always comforted myself by saying, "Well, you're not really trying. If you ever once tried, you would be as good as anyone else at it."
Three specific cases disrupted this idea. First, at work they had a weight-loss contest. Everyone would get weighed once a month for four or five months, and whoever lost the greatest percentage of their body weight would win an ipod or a wii. So I decided to join them. I could afford to lose 15-18 pounds, according to my body mass index, and for the first time in my life, I started to try to lose weight. Always before, I had stayed pretty constantly trim without trying. Well, my weight at the end of the contest was only one pound less than my weight at the beginning, and that was only because I had happened to skip breakfast that morning. So much for trying to lose weight. Me trying (to lose weight) was the same as me not trying.
Second, I stared an accountability sheet where for a month, I would record my bedtime and my waking up time. The idea was to try to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier, and see progress over time. Ha. At the end of the month, the only thing my chart showed was chaos. So I tried another month. Perhaps this time, the graph would show steady improvement and progress. Nope. I was all over the map. So much for trying to dictate to myself my bedtime. Me trying (to get up early) was the same as me not trying.
Third, I encountered the above-described difficulties in my job. I tried, and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried. Oh, how I pushed! Oh, how I tried to govern myself! Oh, how I tried rewards and punishments. Nothing worked. I continued on in the same rut of failure for all seven months. Me trying (to make myself work) was the same as me not trying.
It was this that got me thinking. "In my flesh, I really can't do anything by myself. If God doesn't come through for me, I'm sunk." (Remember what I had asked God earlier? How I had wanted to feel like I was dependent? He got me there all right! I just didn't know how painful it would be.)
I also did a word study in Scripture on the word nothing.
John 15:4 Jesus said, "Without me, ye can do nothing."
Gal 6:3 If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
John 6:63 The flesh profiteth nothing.
1 Co. 9:16 I have nothing to glory of.
John 3:27 A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven.
John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing.
John 11:49 Ye know nothing at all.
1 Tim 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
It hit me for the first time in my life that I am nothing. Apart from God, I can do nothing. God is the great everything. And only as far as I am found in Him and receive things from Him will I ever do anything.
NOW I was on the way to true dependence on God.
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