I (Lori) am a person who enjoys accomplishing tasks. I like having a to-do list and checking things off as I finish them. Yet I also deeply value relationships and want people to feel cared for in the midst of what I am doing. Interestingly, much of what I do in my major roles right now involves trying to touch people’s minds and hearts; I am trying to help them grow and see and know God more (as a Mother and as a Campus Minister). I cannot make that happen, no matter how well I communicate or how many things I check off my to-do list. Even in the legal work I do for Cru, I cannot make things happen. I can try to speak clearly and persuasively—but only God moves the hearts of Campus administrators and truly enables policies to change in His sovereign wisdom.
So I find myself utterly dependent upon Him. And although it rubs against the direction of our culture, it is a good thing to be in this place of dependence. It is good, because it drives me to remember who God is and why he is absolutely trustworthy! It is good, because it drives me to pray. It is good, because when I am weak, then I am strong (in Him). It is good, because when I am dependent, there is not room for worry (worry comes naturally when I think I am responsible to make everything work right). But worry is not present when we work hard and leave the results to God, knowing He is our good, loving, trustworthy Father and that–when hardship comes–He will give us the grace to walk through it and will not leave us or forsake us.
God has me reading the book, A Praying Life, by Paul Miller, for the 3rd time (1st on my own, second with my growth group with the Cru legal team, now with my church women’s Bible study). I am getting the feeling He is telling me it is time to apply it a bit more fully. A theme for me in reading it this time is the need for dependence in order to be driven to prayer. I can-not truly change hearts (my children’s or the students’), regardless of how much I plan. And they are not more likely to apply what I say, regardless of how many times I tell them that I really do know what I am talking about and that it truly will make their lives better if they just do it. Yet somehow I still think that, if I just tell them one more time… I don’t need to pray—they just need to change and get it through their head, right? OK, so that sounds as pig headed as it is…
For example, I tell my 7 year old (again), that it doesn’t help when he yells at his little brother that he is being bad and that he should be quiet. This censure from an older brother typically provokes from the 3 year old, “no YOU’RE being bad”—incidentally not the desired result. I ask calmly (mostly) if this was helpful and then ask why he keeps doing it if it is not helpful. Nevertheless, despite my amazing wisdom, the scenario tends to repeat itself. In reality, this is not as much a “knowing-the-right-thing-to-to” problem as it is a heart problem, both for me AND for my children. And who is in the business of changing hearts? Not me! Praying that God would be at work in their little hearts as well as my own suddenly seems like the true wisdom. Dependence.
So what are some areas where I need to apply this dependence right now?
First, as a mother to my precious children. I love them so much and want to protect them from physical and emotional pain and want to see them grow to know and love God and others, yet I cannot guarantee that any of that will happen, no matter how many wise parenting books I read and apply.
Second, as we wait in anticipation to see if we will be able to adopt a child out of Arizona’s Foster care system. Over the last several months, Jeremiah and I have filled out all the paperwork and taken the foster care licensing classes, after feeling led by the Lord to pursue this step for our family. Now, we are waiting for everything to go through to get our license, then will be waiting for God to bring a child to our family, then waiting to see if we are meant to be the permanent family for that child.
Third, in ministry—both on campus and in my legal work for Cru. I can strategize and speak with wisdom and eloquence, but unless God moves, my efforts are in vain. I think this is one thing that (at least in part) only ministry experience can truly teach. Maybe it is just me, but I have experienced part of maturing in ministry is going through a cycle of: pride—frustration/cynicism—brokenness/dependence—fruit. As we mature, we get to dependence a lot faster—and only there do we really find contentment and peace.
I may be getting to dependence faster, but I still have a long way to go. I want to be able to act on King David’s words in Psalm 37: 5-6
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.