A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Relying on Ourselves—or Relying on God

Posted on: June 11, 2015

Everything we eat, wear and use in our daily lives results from the efforts of many people, so one of the guided meditations in an app I’ve been using reminded me.

North American society, however, places a high value not on interdependence but on independence and even self-reliance. Our culture praises people who succeed “on their own” by relying on their talents and instincts.

This perspective runs counter to the words I read today in Proverbs 3:5-8*:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own insight.

In all your ways acknowledge him

and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes;

fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

It will be healing to your flesh

and refreshment to your bones.

Our wisdom and knowledge aren’t meant to go to waste, but we need God’s perspective on the ways we should use them. If we go full speed ahead with our plans without talking things over with God, we may miss out on the wonderful plans he has for us. We may have good intentions, but the way we act on them may not bring the greatest benefit to others. We may think we understand a problem, but we may not know as much as we believe.

Imagine a natural disaster occurred in a foreign country and an aid agency here decided what people needed and shipped it without consulting aid workers already on the ground in the disaster zone. The shelter and equipment might not work well in that climate, or perhaps the food and water purification supplies would be inadequate given the size of the affected area and the number of people involved.

Imagine instead that the leaders of this same organization prayed about how to respond, and the Holy Spirit pointed them to the people in the disaster zone who knew what and how much their people needed—and maybe that the scope of the disaster was even greater than the aid agency knew. What a difference relying on the Lord would make!

But relying on God means listening for his answer to our prayers, which may not come with a supernatural sign the way it would in a movie-of-the-week. Look at the example of Elijah meeting God at Mount Horeb in 1 Kings 19:11-13:

And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

I pray that we would be thankful for the wisdom and knowledge we gain but that we would not try to do everything in our own strength, trusting instead that God has a plan for us and listening for that still small voice to guide us.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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