It was May. I was 35 weeks pregnant and definitely feeling it. After giving and grading exams, we made a trip to the beach for a few days with my family. In the next week, we would clean out our classrooms, organize materials to leave behind, post grades, finish packing up our apartment, and move to a new city.
In January, we had decided to leave our teaching jobs to be near family for the birth of our son. We were moving without jobs to a rental we had seen once. On moving day we would be by ourselves and again, I was 35 weeks pregnant (not a lot of help carrying things down from the third floor to the U-haul). We hadn’t yet even figured out which day we could move.
We would have a new midwife when we moved. We would have to find a hospital. There was still much to pack, and I was nervous about labor and delivery–hoping we could get moved before the baby came. Grades would be another story entirely, and I was supposed to finish the school yearbook.
I sat near the beach and wrote out these worries one by one. Then I wrote prayers to accompany each worry. On top of this were the long-standing prayer requests for certain people and relationships. I felt overwhelmed by so many worries and “to-dos.”
In the months that have followed, I have seen many of these prayers answered. Our baby arrived safely, my husband found a job, the move happened. I have found peace and more contentment, even in times of confusion and waiting.
I don’t want to imply that prayer is a magic formula. It is not. We aren’t guaranteed a certain type of life or even that with prayer a situation will work out the way we want it to. There are still prayers that I have not seen answered or prayers that have been answered in ways I did not expect. There were specific interviews that did not lead to a job. There were aspects of delivery that did not go the way I would have preferred. There are still prayers on the list that I long to see answered.
Instead of being a formula, prayer shows us that we live in dependence. That season of intense change taught me that whether I see it or not, I am entirely dependent on God for daily provision, for spiritual growth, for healing. I keep coming back to that familiar passage in Matthew, realizing that I am called to seek first God’s kingdom, trusting Him to provide for my needs.
There are always so many things to worry about. We aren’t guaranteed certain life outcomes. We are guaranteed as Christians that God loves us, that he has an incredible future planned for us, that all is for our good and that the best is yet to come.
This dependency has hit me in a new way since having a child. Just as my son does not have much control over his life, so I don’t have as much as I like to think. We glorify independence in our culture, but really we are all dependent on God for our daily bread–for provision and sustenance.
Dependence often reveals itself in prayer. Just as I pray, so my son can communicate. My son tells me (with those surprisingly loud lungs) when something is delightful or funny or uncomfortable or awful. I don’t always answer right away, but that does not change the fact that I love him and will take care of him. And even if he does not communicate, I will strive to meet his needs as best I can.
Sometimes I still have to finish changing that diaper even though it makes him mad. Sometimes we keep driving because we know that in the end his frustration at the time will be worth it for him to see his grandparents.
It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it has shown me the delight the Father takes in my dependence on him and in my communication with him. For I can do all things with Him and apart from Him, I can do nothing. Unlike me God is never trying to finish a shower or complete a task. He is always working for my good and His glory. I am called to depend and to abide. And as the dictionary defines it, abide can mean to live and to dwell, but it can also mean to wait for. And so I wait, I pray, and I depend with faith like the faith my three month old son has in me.
For a wonderful sermon by Tim Keller from which some of my ideas came, listen to “A Christian’s Happiness.”