Monday, September 26, 2016

A Declaration of Dependence

One look at those eyes, dark, alert, brimming with life, and I was hooked. M'Kala looked so tiny and fragile in my arms as she dropped her head against my shoulder. Then she dribbled on my jacket lapel. She didn't even smile at me afterward. Just raised her head and nonchalantly gazed around. Her cheeks held the faint blush of pink so characteristic of infants. And as I stroked her chin, she paused, scrunched up her nose as if preparing to cry, then smiled and began to gaze around again. Tiny fingers wrapped around my thumb and would not let go. She never blinked nor made a sound even when I gently pried her fingers free and returned her to her mother.

As she turned to rest her head against her mother's breast, I thought, what a gentle picture of our relationship with the Lord. Like little M'Kala snuggled in her mother's arms, safe and warm, we lean on the Lord in simple trust. A wise man once said, " Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6) What does it mean to trust in the Lord? Solomon uses the Hebrew word batach, one of two words in the Old Testament expressing trust and dependence. Franz Delitzsch says it means to "lean  with the whole body on something, in order to rest upon it." Trust in the Lord, then, equals "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."

It begins with life itself, life that comes from the Lord and depends on Him for its endurance. M'Kala, before emerging from the womb, received life from her parents. Her mother's body nurtured that life as she grew and developed. Now, at three months, she still depends on her mother for life and sustenance. For every breath we take, for every cell that grows in our bodies, we depend upon the Lord, "for in him we live, and move, and have our being...." (Acts 17:28a, KJV) Job said, "The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life." (Job 33:4)

M'Kala is still resting in her mother's arms. What a sense of security this must give a little child, to calm her fears and to assure her of protection and safety. "I will say to the Lord, the Psalmist cried, "'My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!' For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper.... He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark." (Psalm 91:2-4) With all these resources to protect us, who can harm us? When we feel threatened, we can run to our Father for safety. You see, batach is a child-like, unwavering confidence in our Father's wisdom, faithfulness, strength, and love (2 Chronicles 20:15). It just means I can depend on Him for all my needs.

We also depend on the Lord for guidance. As M'Kala grows, her parents will teach her to walk and to talk, guiding her growth along the way with their wisdom. They will show her how to dress herself, how to behave properly, how to treat others. If we trust in the Lord as Solomon advises, acknowledging Him in all our ways, He "will direct [our] paths" (Proverbs 3:6b, KJV). He will show us what we need to help us grow up in Him. The Lord  "will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail." (Isaiah 58:11)

The ancient Hebrews knew a God whose chief characteristic was faithfulness, trustworthiness. (Deuteronomy 7:9) They knew themselves to be utterly without resources, personal or otherwise. How much better to be utterly dependent on a dependable God!