The Joy of Dependence
“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die . . . When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.” – Ps. 104: 29 – 30
“Dependence” is frowned upon in our society, while “independence” is seen as a good thing. I get that. It’s good to be in charge of your own life and have the capacity to make decisions about it.
Older folks fear becoming “dependent.” When my mother wasn’t able to drive any longer she still wanted to look out and see her car in the driveway. With the impatience of the rational I asked, “Why?” “I don’t know,” she said. “It just makes me feel like I’m not stuck or having to depend on all of you.”
These days a fair number of twenty-something have returned to the parental nest, but it’s not something anyone brags about.
Psalm 104, from which today’s reading comes, might be considered a kind of joyful ode to dependence. Every living thing is seen as gladly and utterly dependent on the Creator. No one and nothing lives to itself alone. If we live, we live to God.
While I acknowledge the value of independence, I also think there’s a lot of deep down loneliness in our highly independent society. And it’s not just loneliness for other people; it’s loneliness for God.
At least part of what goes on in good worship is that we are permitted a legitimate dependence. We turn to a power greater than us, to a mystery larger than we are.
If we need independence, and we do, we also need dependence. There is grace in knowing that we didn’t create life or ourselves, that God is God, not us, and that there is One to whom we may, with the psalmist, joyfully shout, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.” (Ps. 104: 33)
I’m not ashamed to say it, Lord; I depend upon you, on your grace, your mercy and your love. Thank you. Amen.
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Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.