I’ve been thinking a lot lately about faith and reliance. Christians are taught we’re supposed to rely on God, that our Father in Heaven is a first resort, not a last resort. But what does the practical application of that look like in our lives?
It’s one thing to say you rely on God, but how can you be sure that you really do?
The only real way to figure this out is to ask where your faith is. And you may want to easily answer your faith is in God. But really analyze your life. What gives you confidence? Is it your job? The amount of money you have in your bank account? Support of friends and family?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things. I’d count them all as blessings. But it’s important to remember that’s what they are. . . blessings. You don’t put your faith in them. You merely appreciate them for what they are and maybe even share them with others who aren’t as fortunate.
Real faith needs to be in the One that bestows these blessings.
In my life, I placed (and sometimes still place) faith in myself. I was raised to work hard, which is a good value to have. But it also led to me thinking I could solve all my problems on my own. Money tight? I’ll just budget tighter. Conflict with a loved one? I’ll just find exactly the right thing to say. I solve my own problems instead of relying on God. And that has bit me in the rear more times than I can count.
You see, when I exclusively rely on myself, I’m benching God. And you don’t bench God. Because when you do, things inevitably start to go wrong. Somehow, the ship starts springing leaks. Then you rush around like mad trying to plug them all until you’re underwater.
Lately God has been teaching me the limits of youth and vitality. I’ll be 29 years old in a couple months, which is still relatively young in my mind. But there’s a stark difference between 18 and where I am now. At 18, I could eat whatever I wanted, sleep however I wanted, live a pretty carefree healthy existence. If something bad did happen, I’d bounce back quicker thanks to that awesome youth and vitality.
But as you age, things slow down. Stuff starts to hurt a little more often, even seemingly without reason. I have to stretch more before I run now, or my knees and hips let me know about it later. Lately problems can range from a random sore spot near the bladder to taking a few extra minutes to orient myself after walking out of a dark movie theater.
The lesson from all this is pretty simple. Don’t rely on your youth and strength. It decreases a little more every day. And some days it just fails you outright. I should instead be placing more faith in God, and eating more vegetables and fruits.
Don’t just take my word for it. There’s a solid Biblical example on my mind, too. Lately I’ve been studying a lot of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Good old King Solomon, wisest man to walk the Earth short of Christ himself.
In 1 Kings 3, God appears before King Solomon and offers him whatever he asks for. He asks for understanding so he could effectively rule the kingdom of Israel. So God grants him this and a wise heart (along with great riches since he asked for the right thing). No one else would have a wisdom like King Solomon’s.
And while Solomon gets to do some pretty cool things like build the first Holy Temple, ultimately he makes some bad decisions, like where he places his reliance.
Ecclesiastes paints a picture of a tired and maybe even depressed King Solomon. In the book, he writes about all the things he studied with his wisdom, trying to find purpose in life. What I hypothesize is that King Solomon ultimately felt isolation because of his wisdom. That’s why he wrote things like, “With a lot of wisdom [comes] a lot of heartache. The greater [your] knowledge, the greater [your] pain,” in Ecclesiastes 1:18.
King Solomon has all this wisdom, and he investigates everything under the sun. But there isn’t anyone on the planet he can share everything he learns with, not truly. Intellectually, King Solomon is on a level no one can hope to ascend to. He can go on and on about what he learns, but there’s no human alive to truly appreciate all that information like he can.
So he comes depressed and exasperated in his search for fulfillment and meaning in life. What I suspect is God wanted King Solomon to use that wisdom and commune with him on a higher level, as no other human could at the time. But I suspect the king didn’t do that. He was too busy investigating all matters under the sun and trying to find another human to share these joys with.
Here we see King Solomon failing to rely on God as the ultimate satisfaction in life. Instead, he uses his wisdom to keep investigating, hoping he’ll find that elusive fulfillment. In Ecclesiastes he eventually concludes that life without God is meaningless, but it sure does take him a while and much heartache to reach that conclusion.
I placed too much faith in myself, and King Solomon placed too much faith in the very wisdom God gifted him with. In the end, the lesson to take away from it all is rely more on God. And that’s easier said than done. We’re all too eager to take the reigns of life sometimes instead of trusting that the Big Guy Upstairs has a plan for us.
Don’t be like me. Place your confidence and faith in the one person that’ll never let you down. Jobs, family, friends, money, it’s all great to have. But having confidence God will take care of you is a security and peace that transcends all of it.