I can’t help myself

I’ll confess the things I’m afraid of, even if it takes a little convincing and arm-twisting out of a host of self-sufficient habits.

I can’t help myself, and that’s the honest truth.

This is week two of a new job and day five in a new apartment and week three of a new life in the city where my love lives. I can be pretty confident about my inability to help myself – decidedly confident in that one, unsettling thing.

My roommate and I are kind-of, officially “moved in” to our beautiful, spacious, street-facing 3rd floor apartment, but we’re still trying to cure it of the empty echo. We’ve moved furniture in and out (thanks to a lot of Patrick’s sweat and muscle), raced to the houses of strangers with listings on Craigslist, and scavenged for gems on the sidewalk. We’ve navigated (and failed) the subways and the streets and the sidewalks in our neighborhood and beyond. We’ve made friends with the hardware store, the flower store, the fruit stand, and our very nice neighbors across the street who (we suspect) have a car dealership that fronts for a drug operation.

This is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, which is probably why I’m so aware that I can do absolutely nothing to help myself. This is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I am overwhelmed with the way God makes hard things beautiful and rough things lovely.

And this is so beautiful and so lovely – even so much so that I forget I’m inside a whirlwind of transition. Somehow, in the madness of moving across the country, God orchestrated events so that I would live two avenues from Patrick. Somehow, in the hazy hurricane of details, God arranged for Tamara and I to be the kind of roommates who hope to make our NYC apartment a home. Somehow, in the slew of job applications I electronically threw toward the East months ago, God remembered my love for laughter and passion for service.

The only reasonable “somehow” of all this beautiful mess, is that the Lord is sovereign. He is not surprised by anything and He loves to give good gifts to His children. Not easy gifts (not all the time anyway), but it is good gifts He loves to give.

This move is a good gift in the superlative sense.

His provision of peace always surpasses my fear, always. This move is a good gift, but not because it is easy. It is good because God is good and He never changes.

I am believing more today than yesterday in God’s mercy and grace and peace. I think this might be part of His good gift – that I am pressing in to who He is and needing Him (desperately) to be who He claims to be. And even though He continues to prove Himself faithful, my hope does not come from history. My hope comes from His promises that today and tomorrow and this weekend, He will continue to be faithful to give grace.

I can’t help myself and this is my hope: He is my help. I lift my eyes to the hills and my empty hands to the sky, because nothing I can do or see or say can help myself.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121, ESV)

He is my help and He can only be faithful.

before all that: exploring a life of desperate dependence

Before the breakdown and before the last straw that falls on the camel’s back.

Before all that.

What if we got desperate and dependent before anxiety wrapped its cold, stubborn fingers around our hearts?

I’ve learned dependence before, many times. While boarding with  a leaky car in Austin and while bumming on a co-worker’s couch I learned some important things about dependence. But we have a tendency to label lessons like mile markers – things we’ve passed along the way. Once we’ve learned a lesson, we move on with a forward gaze, assuming the lesson is added to our lives like a scout badge on a vest.

Well, maybe it’s just me that does that – but I’m only cheating myself out of joy if I live treating lessons like mile markers or scout badges.

Oh, how I love my patient and faithful Savior! He is reminding me that “casting all your cares on the Lord because He cares for you” is not merely for the SOS moments. Maybe let me rephrase: our lives are a string of SOS moments.

This is what I am learning and living.

We are made to be desperate, but not the kind of desperate that builds up to a breaking point and then explodes out of control. Not that kind of desperate.

We are made to depend desperately on the One who will trade our need for His provision.

That is His good design. Our dependence is deeper than bread and water, but our needs are all in the same well that His grace is sufficient to fill. That is His good design – desperate dependence, all the time.

We cast our cares on Him because He cares for us – because He has been faithful and promises to be faithful in the future. Our God has never broken a promise, not ever. My desperate dependence is evidence that I believe Him to be just that.

So, when a string of days fills with SOS moments, there is not less joy available. It is not a lesson of dependence that marks another mile walked on the faith road. Desperate dependence is the road we walk, the path we tread as we daily rejoice in His provision for us. He provides all that we need, according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19) – and there is no bank with better credit. Our provision comes from the source of all things.

The deep well of His sufficient grace offers peace (Philippians 4:6) when we cast our cares (1 Peter 5:7), believing that God is the strength for our hearts and portion forever (Psalm 73:26).

Before the breakdown and before the last straw (but of course, in those times too), we are invited to desperately depend on the One who can sufficiently provide for our needs and overwhelm our lives with joy.

I could tell you about the past two days – about the car trouble and the appointments and the millions of ways that God gave me good gifts. I could tell you about the near disasters (averted, I know, by the grace of God) and the very friendly repair shop on SE 14th Street. I could tell you about the songs I sang in my car with littles in the backseat and the way they explained the songs to their parent. I could tell you about sitting around a coffee table in community and laughter.

I could tell you just a few of the millions of ways God is providing in the desperately dependent state, but then it might seem like this is something I “learned” in the past two days.

And I didn’t learn it, in the past tense way.

This desperate dependence is meant to be a lifestyle that flows like the lifeblood in my veins, keeping me existing here on earth. So, I’m exploring a life of desperate dependence, walking that road with eternity hidden in my heart.