Dependency is a scary thing because it involves relying on someone other than yourself to come through for you. When it comes to God, however, we are called to live lives that are wholly dependent on Him because He is both our Source and our Strength. But how can we reconcile this idea of complete trust in God with our human fear of being dependent? Let me tell you:
We learn how to live dangerously dependent on God.
The truth is that we will never fully, from a human standpoint, overcome our fear of being dependent, of being vulnerable. We can, however, make a choice to step out with courageous faith in the face of our fear. Joshua had to do this time and time again. He had been groomed as God’s next chosen leader for the Israelites, and it was going to be his job to lead the people into the Promised Land. Apparently, in spite of his training, Joshua didn’t feel particularly brave, because God had to tell him to “be strong and courageous” three times in the first chapter of the book of Joshua; the Israelite people even told him to be strong and courageous! Joshua’s first task was to get the people across the Jordan River during its flood stage. God told him not to worry and told him to prepare the people because He was going to do something amazing, but God didn’t tell Joshua what exactly He was going to do. Now, I don’t know about you, but getting thousands upon thousands of people ready to cross a flooded river that you don’t actually have a way to cross seems a little nuts. But God had called Joshua to live dangerously dependent because He wanted to show Joshua how awesome He is.
Joshua 3 opens up with Joshua getting the people ready to cross the Jordan. “Come on; get ready to go because the Lord is going to do awesome things on our behalf!” was the gist of Joshua’s message to the people. That was really all that he could tell them, though, because that was all he knew. It was only at the make-or-break moment, that moment when everyone was waiting with baited breath for Joshua to lead them across the river, that God told Joshua the plan. Can you imagine how nervous Joshua was probably getting? He’d had a word from the Lord, but sometimes when things are getting down to the wire we begin to doubt what we’ve heard. I’ve had moments like that in my life, moments when I’ve felt as though I’d jumped off a cliff in faith and was waiting for God to catch me. That moment of total dependency is the hardest because you feel as though you are falling and just hoping that there are Hands ready and waiting to catch you. Then God shows up does something mind-blowing. He did this for Joshua and the Israelites – He told them to walk out into the water and, as they did so, He stopped the flow of the Jordan, causing the waters to pile up while His people crossed safely over on dry ground. And that was only the beginning; Joshua and the Israelites blitzed through the land of Canaan, taking cities and wining battles not because they were great but because God is great. They walked in obedience to the promises of God and claimed the victory that God already had in place for them. (You can check out what happens when they didn’t walk in obedience to God’s word and trust in His promises in Joshua 7.)
This brings up a key point: living dangerously dependent is a choice that is fueled by obedience. When I think of this, the last battle in the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes to mind. Picture it with me for a moment. Aslan was dead, and the White Witch seemed to have the upper hand. Peter, a half-grown boy, had to gather Aslan’s army and go out to meet the White Witch on the field of battle. The thing about this battle was that it was going to be nearly impossible for them to win; Aslan’s army was severely outnumbered and had lost their leader, who was their hope and their standard for victory. But Peter had to lead the army into battle; it was his duty. He did what he had to do: he acted in obedience and prepared the army. On the day of the great battle, Aslan’s army fought valiantly but was rapidly being cut down by the Witch’s minions. Finally, the point of no return came: either the Narnians or the Witch would be victorious; either good or evil would triumph. This was the deciding moment in the battle, the moment of dangerous dependency and infinite vulnerability for the army of Aslan. There had been a prophecy of the destruction of the White Witch, a promise of victory, but it all seemed hopeless at this point. Then Aslan showed up. Over the ridge He came with a mighty roar, leading an army of warriors who were fresh and ready for battle. Within moments the tide of the war turned, and the White Witch’s forces were wiped out. The White Witch herself was put to death, and victory belonged to the army of Aslan.
What can the story of Joshua and the story of Aslan’s army teach us?
We are safe to live lives of dangerous dependency on God because He is unfailingly faithful.
These victories, these miracles, had been decreed since before the beginning of time. There was no question, for good always triumphs over evil and God’s plans always prevail. I will say that again: the victory was already in place, but the people had to trust God’s promises enough to push through in obedience. Without bold obedience they would have failed to claim the good things God already had in store for them. Why do we do this today? Why do we fail to walk in the good things and the victory God already has for us through the blood of Jesus? It is because we are terrified to live dangerously dependent on God, terrified to live outside of our comfort zones and look crazy to the world. But let me share with you something that I have learned: the more dangerously dependent on God we are, the more we open the door for Him to work miraculously and bring victory in our lives. God can do amazing things regardless of our level of trust in Him, but we cut ourselves off from the fullness of what He wants to do when we refuse to place our trust in Him and Him alone. I am telling you right now, though, that Jesus died and rose again to break off every chain of sin and death and fear that holds us back from a life of outrageous, victorious freedom.
Life with Jesus is a dare to live dangerously dependent and decidedly different.
Will you accept the challenge and take up the torch?