And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. -- I Chron. 4:10
This goes against my cultural upbringing. In America we highly value our independence and individuality and our rights to the extent that being a dependent person has negative connotations. How often have I come across articles on codependency and ever seen that in a positive light? So reading these things is challenging.
In The Prayer of Jabez, author Bruce Wilkinson recalls a time when he had prayed this prayer and God started blessing and giving him more responsibility as He "enlarged his territory." Bruce recalls how with this added responsibility came the feeling of helplessness because he felt ill-equipped to handle everything. So he talked to an older, wiser man and poured out his heart to him about these feelings he was having. After listening for a while, the older gentlemen replied with kindness, "'Son,...that feeling you are running from is called dependence. It means you're walking with the Lord Jesus. . . Actually, the second you're not feeling dependent is the second you've backed away from truly living by faith.'" (pg. 47)
The author also reminds us, "God's power under us, in us, surging through us is exactly what turns dependence into unforgettable experiences of completeness." As Paul writes in II Corinthians 3:5-6,
5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The author writes: "Ask for the Father's touch. Because for the Christian, dependence is just another word for power." (pg. 61)
So how fitting is it that I checked my e-mail this morning and saw my brother had sent me Little Is Much When God Is In It?
Mr. Wilkinson reminds us how often people will be blessed by God and forget that this blessing came from Him. He quotes from another, "blessedness is the greatest of perils because 'it tends to dull our keen sense of dependence on God and make us prone to presumption.'" (pg. 64)
The more God blesses you and starts using you for His glory, the more Satan will attack you with "the enemy's unwelcome barbs -- distraction, opposition and oppression, for starters. In fact, if your experience is anything but that, be concerned." (pg. 64)
One final thing to share from this book and it addresses what I wrote at the beginning about my culture. The author asks,
Do we really understand how far the American Dream is from God's dream for us? We're steeped in a culture that worships freedom, independence, personal rights, and the pursuit of pleasure. We respect people who sacrifice to get what they want. But to be a living sacrifice? To be crucified to self? Like Jabez, we should plead to be kept from the powerful pull of what feels right to us but is wrong." (pg. 70)
Wow, yes, that definitely is a powerful pull! I like that: "what feels right to us but is wrong." I suppose this is why feelings can't always be trusted, and we need the absoluteness that is God! As I've heard my preacher say, "I don't feel saved until I've had my coffee in the morning." Thank goodness, salvation is not based on our feelings! My feelings are often all over the place!
I am glad I "happened to find" this book lying so innocently as a decoration on my inlaws' coffee table on Sunday. It was short, but challenging and worth the hour or so that it took to read.