Depending On God

Psalm 91

One of the things that Christian people talk a lot about is dependence upon God.
We sing hymns about it.
We imply about it in our prayers.
We preach about it in our sermons.
But is it possible to be too dependent upon God?

Americans in an adult congregation like this, if they spoke what was really on their minds,
might be a little suspicious of the psalmist who wrote in the 91st chapter of Psalm,
"I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust."

They might say it, or read it in unison as part of the service,
but make a mental reservation to themselves that the psalmist might have done better
if he had trusted less in God and and done something about it himself.
So this question, "Isn't it possible to be too dependent upon God?"
This deserves our serious consideration.

Of course, the answer is "yes" and "no."

For instance, if you depend on God and to get you through a test in school
(if you happen to be a student) the following day and have not opened any of the books
through the preceding year and that has to do with the subject of the test,
then you are depending upon God altogether too much.

Or if you depend on God to save a man who has been struck down by a truck and is bleeding to death
and you do nothing whatsoever to stop the bleeding, then you are depending on God far too much.

But if after, and while you do everything you can in a situation you depend on God,
you cannot depend upon Him too much, because everything you are and everything you have
or can ever hope to be come ultimately from God.
Such as receiving from Him your life, your thoughts, your imagination -– all are derived,
and depend up on His energies of which you are completely and utterly dependent.

So this raises another question.
Where does this idea of depending upon God come from?

When you stop to think about it and look into your selves and into what you know about life,
you realize that it comes right out of our human situation, just as spontaneously
as the grass comes out of the earth.
No one thought it up.
It came up all by itself as soon as human beings had the wits to take it in.

We are born completely helpless – no one can question that.
A baby can do nothing for itself, and is completely dependent upon his parents
or up on some older person to take care of its needs.
As we grow up we learn in a marvelous way, and very quickly, to do a great many things for ourselves.

After about 15 or 16 years, when we can do so much to help ourselves, we are sometimes misled into believing
that we are not dependent upon anything, and that we can do everything that is required under any emergency
and do not need to acknowledge any dependence upon anyone or anything outside ourselves.

Of course then, we have to learn all over again while we can help ourselves in many of the daily tasks of life,
we never become completely independent, and the older we grow, the more we realize
how dependent we really are.

The people who have made the most of life are the people who have made the most graceful submission
to the larger forces that mysteriously press upon them from all sides and that they never
completely understand – at least, they never presume to understand them – but with which
they make some satisfactory, secret terms.

You find this, this dependence upon God, this sense of depending upon the larger forces outside oneself,
not only in pious people.
Think of all the creative artists that you have ever known or heard about or read about in the evidence
they have left of the process by which they work.
I believe that we would agree that there is one thing that they have in common.
And the one thing they have in common is that they are in the very nature of their lives agents of communication.

They are not imitators of anything.
There are channels through which something greater is communicated to the world.
And therefore, they are constantly aware of the fact that they are dependent upon this source outside themselves.

Another thing that we might notice about it is that you don't grow out of this sense of dependence upon God,
you go into it.
And the older you get, the more you are aware of it.

Among one of the most interesting persons in American history is Benjamin Franklin.
His friends all thought of him as a freethinker.
He belonged to no church and subscribed to know creed, as far as they knew did not practice
any of the ordinary religious techniques of life.

When the Convention was meeting to draw up the Constitution of the United States,
they were amazed when he stood up in the Convention and made a resolution that each one of its sessions
began with prayer, after which he said,
"The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth; that God governs in the affairs of men."

The longer you live, the more convincing proofs become that there are forces outside yourself
that in the long-run govern the world.

There is still one other question that I would like for us to examine, and that is,
"What sort of help can we expect from God?"

The man who wrote the 91st Psalm had a very definite, expectation.
He expected immunity against all disaster.
He even goes as far as to say, "There shall no evil happened unto him,
neither shall any plague come nigh his dwelling
."

When you read that and you wonder about it.
Did you think that this was the result of the author's imagination, and an exaggerated statement
brought about by his enthusiasm.
But as you grow older and think about it, you begin to realize there is something in it.
And it is this.
Isn't it true that people who lose themselves in something great and significant
have a greater power of resistance than other people.
At least doesn't it seem that way from our observations?

Maybe what we need to wonder whether there isn't something to be said for the fact
that the more you submerge yourself in some great interest the greater your resistance is to the things
that are likely to strike you down.
The more you trust in God, the more you stave off the inroads of disaster.

I suppose that the reason for this is that it eliminates fear.
A person who really trusts is not a fearful person.
And fear is something like a lightning rod that draws disaster to itself.
But, unlike a lightning rod, it does not drain the disaster off into the harmless all of the earth,
but concentrates it and magnifies it at the place we can do the most damage.

There is another kind of help we need even more, and then is we can speak of with much greater assurance.
It is not so much immunity against disaster – which I think we cannot guarantee people,
rather I cannot honestly do it – but rather the enlargement of our power
to meet the demands of life when they come.

I can speak of that with absolute confidence.
Depending on my own efforts, nothing happens.
Depending on God, anything may happen.

I believe there are people here in this congregation who could say the same thing about themselves.
Placed in other situations in life where they were facing circumstances
for which they had not at all adequate resources, they realized that by themselves alone they could not do it,
and yet when they recognize that fact and acknowledge that they depended ultimately up on a God
who could help them, somehow, from somewhere, who then received the energy that they themselves
could not have dreamed possible.

It is interesting that this Psalm that is encouraging to us, ends on that note, and I end on that note.
It begins with a man speaking to God in all confidence,
"In God is my hope and my strength, my refuge, my fortress, in Him will I trust and He will deliver me
from all the disasters of life."

It is not always the will of God to get us out of trouble, but there are times
when it is His will to see us through trouble.

So therefore, we can pray as in Numbers 6:22-27 for
Security – that God will "keep" us in all circumstances.
Grace – that God will favor us despite our unworthiness.
Peace – that God will enable us to enjoy the fullness of His blessing (cf. John 14:27)

This sermon was adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White