I’d Rather Take Care of it Myself…

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I don’t want to be like the widow of Zarephath.

I do, however, love her story in the Bible. She’s the widow in 1 Kings 17 who had just enough oil and flour for the day but no more. And she never knew if she’d have what she needed for tomorrow.  If God didn’t provide for her each day, she would die of starvation. She had no resources of her own, no cushion to fall back on, no way to see the future. But this widow had God. And God is enough.

Her story is a beautiful picture of dependence on God. A beautiful example of how God provides for us. A beautiful illustration of trusting Him for our daily needs.

Beautiful, that is, for others. I love watching God work in other people’s lives that way, but I’d prefer to live my own life differently. I don’t like living with scarcity.  I don’t like having just enough to meet my needs. I don’t like being dependent. It makes me feel vulnerable.

But in the last decade, my life has been characterized by dependency. Dependent on my friends, dependent on family, dependent on God. With post-polio syndrome, I don’t know how much strength I will have for tomorrow. The doctors say my energy is like money in a bank. I can make withdrawals but no deposits. When it runs out, there is no more. Since I have no idea how much reserve is left, I must trust God to provide the strength I need each day.

As a result, several friends have been praying that my strength would be like the widow of Zarephath’s oil and flour. That there will always be enough. That I will have no lack. That my strength will never run out.

What a reassuring picture for my future. Utter dependence on God. Seeing Him provide for my needs. Trusting Him when I cannot see.

But in my economy, I want a full oil flask and an overflowing flour container. I want to see how and when God will provide for my needs. I want a guarantee that I can independently verify.

That’s because I’d rather depend on myself than on God. To be honest, I often trust my own resources more than I trust Him. Though I love God and want to obey Him, trusting Him can be frightening. It’s easier when the future looks certain.  I prefer knowing that God can take care of all of my needs, but never having to depend solely on Him. It feels much safer that way.

I like using God as my back-up plan. Being independent, making my own plans, not leaving things undone. And then if something unforeseen happens, He can step in.

But I know that God has something better in mind.

Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean we don’t plan or want God’s blessings in this life. But our sense of security and circumstantial satisfaction could be keeping us from a deeper walk with God. It’s wise to save money so that we have enough to retire. But facing retirement with little savings may force us to depend on God in ways that a large bank account never would. It’s wonderful to have great health and never go to the doctor. But being ill and wondering how we will make it through each day may cause us to pray more earnestly. It’s a joy to have a house full of loving obedient children. But we may be drawn deeper into the heart of God when we seek Him with infertility or wayward, rebellious children.

Charles Spurgeon says, “There is no greater mercy that I know of on earth than good health except it be sickness; and that has often been a greater mercy to me than health… It is a good thing to be without a trouble; but it is a better thing to have a trouble, and know how to get grace enough to bear it.

It is a better thing to have a trouble, and know how to get grace enough to bear it. That’s because dependence is always better than self-sufficiency in the Kingdom. Dependence yields fruit in our lives.

Spurgeon also says, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” Anything that makes me dependent on God is a good thing. The best thing perhaps.

This is, of course, profoundly biblical. The children of Israel were given manna every day. They couldn’t provide for themselves. They had to depend on God and He always provided. Jesus underscored the importance of day-by-day dependence when He taught us to pray saying, “Give us this day our daily bread.” When we have no resources of our own, God’s power is most evident in our lives. As the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

The story of the widow of Zarepheth troubles me because I am a sinner. Because I don’t want to be dependent on God for my every breath. I want to be self-sufficient, and depend on God when my self-sufficiency doesn’t work out.

But the truth is, I am dependent on God for my every breath. So are you. Like the widow of Zarepheth, none of us really knows whether we will have the resources we need for tomorrow. So our sense of independence from God is only an illusion.

My fellowship with God is the sweetest when I rely on Him for everything because I cannot see the path in front of me. Having all of my needs met in abundance is a good thing. But it is a far better thing to depend on God for my daily bread, looking to Him because I have no options of my own.

I wouldn’t choose to be like the widow of Zarephath. I wouldn’t choose dependence over independence. I wouldn’t choose scarcity over abundance. But I have found them all to be corners of blessing. My places of famine and desolation have become the places where I see God the most clearly.  Not only does He meet my every need but wondrously, breathtakingly, He fills me with Himself.

And, miraculously, I am learning to be grateful for every wave that casts me on the Rock of Ages.
photo courtesy of Jonathan Davidar

  • September 15, 2014 - 5:41 pm

    Lindsay Fooshee - I can so relate to this, Vaneetha. Wishing my life could be the sort where I didn’t have to depend on God, but knowing that the kind of life that forces me to depend on God is the best kind to have. Looking forward to meeting you “At the Barn” in a couple of weeks!ReplyCancel

    • September 15, 2014 - 7:06 pm

      Vaneetha - I agree, Lindsay. Dependence is a humbling, but at the same time wonderful, place to be. Looking forward to meeting you!ReplyCancel

  • September 16, 2014 - 10:28 pm

    Lyn Moffitt - Vaneetha, your story confirms to me that Jesus does indeed come in the quiet if our souls, holds us tenderly and assures us that He will always provide and never leave us.

    It is an easy time of my life now, what with just getting married at age 67 to a wonderful Christian gentleman; but I miss being needy of my Lord. I miss His sweet presence. I will go to Him tonight when all is quiet.

    Thank you and I will remember you tonight when I talk with my Lord. I will call your name.



    • September 17, 2014 - 10:31 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you Lyn for your sweet encouragement. So thankful for God’s blessings at this time in your life. He is so good.ReplyCancel

  • October 26, 2016 - 10:17 am

    Angel - You wrote this over two years ago, and it is exactly what I needed to hear today. I have struggled for quite some time, and I have not been able to figure out why I can’t seem to get past this place. Now I realize that getting past this place isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing at all. I want so badly to fix this myself and I can’t. I want certainty and abundance and health, but God has chosen a different end. Dependance! I’m not sure I’m ready to hear this, but at least now I know what the heart of the matter is. Thank you for taking the time to write it is such an encouragement and a blessing.ReplyCancel

    • October 26, 2016 - 11:15 am

      Vaneetha - So glad God used it Angel. Dependence is so hard- but truly brings an amazing closeness to God.ReplyCancel

  • September 5, 2017 - 3:20 pm

    Caroline - Thank You for pointing me in the direction of this article. God has been teaching the meaning of the practicality of asking for manna each day, and not trying to collect enough for a few days. In my heart, if I’m honest, part of me doesn’t believe that God will provide for me – at least not in the way I feel I should be provided for!! How easy it is to assume our wants are really needs. I wonder whether God is forcing me to acknowledge that my faith in him is too weak, and needs strengthening? Do I REALLY believe he is God Almighty? Do I REALLY believe he will keep all his promises to me? Do I REALLY believe he loves me and REALLY knows what’s best for me? Or am I still assuming the “God Position” in my life, ascending the throne of my heart myself, where He alone should be? Am I being idolatrous like Adam, who thought he knew best when he took the forbidden fruit because of Satan’s false promises? So much to think/pray/meditate about, for which my thanks as always, Vaneetha.ReplyCancel

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