Before my husband and I were married, we exchanged lists of our life dreams. My list held over 30 bullet points compared to my husband’s six or seven items. On his list, sandwiched between things such as raise a family and travel to New Zealand, was a dream that brought a smile to my face: always drive a blue car.
The words were simple; yet reading them further endeared him to me. They made me realize that he sought joy in everyday life.
I wanted to be part of his blue car dream.
As it turned out, the first car my husband owned was the deep blue color of the ocean, the first car I owned reminded me of the springtime sky, and the first car we owned as a couple matched the sapphire in my engagement ring. The dream seemed as though it could become a reality.
For us, owning blue cars has been a bit unpredictable, though, as we’ve chosen to drive second-hand vehicles.
In mid-January, we moved from Cape Town, South Africa, to Charlotte, North Carolina. We were in a new city, desperately searching for a car that fit our price range. The choices were few, and a time crunch was quickly closing in on us. Other unexpected logistical moving challenges seemed to be dark rain clouds hovering over our every waking moments.
I could feel my normal sense of control rapidly slipping through my fingers. I was grasping at water and unable to hold what I gathered in my hands. Anxious and fearful thoughts crawled into the corners of my mind.
When life is straightforward rather than complex, I find myself relying more and more on my smart planning, intelligence, and sheer ability to solve a problem. In those moments, I confess that I slowly lose sight of my need for my Lord. I rise from bed in the morning, and I think, “Go, go, go! Patrice, you can do it. Just work hard. You can do it!” “It” being whatever needs to be accomplished that day or that week or that month.
Mid-January reminded me of a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
The complexity really began the end of 2010 when we decided to move to Charlotte. We needed to set up life for ourselves, and it felt as though we were in the middle of a maze discovering dead ends and roadblocks in every direction. In addition to the challenges, our exhaustion was immense as our baby girl’s all night sleep routine vanished once we stepped onto American soil; replaced instead by a confused little girl who was waking up three, four, and five times each night.
My motivational self-talks were failing me. My planning wasn’t working. I couldn’t figure out how to outsmart all the difficulties. Deep inside, I was wondering if we had made a bad choice leaving Cape Town and moving to Charlotte.
There’s nothing like a loss of control to bring me to my knees, asking God to please work, to please act, because nothing I’m doing is yielding any type of results. That’s where we were shortly after arriving. Tears fell from my eyes and my mind was overrun with stress and uncertainty. My husband and I were in heartfelt prayer, fully yielding our choices over to our Lord. We had been given a challenging reminder of our need to need God.
Almost instantly, God’s gracious gift of peace calmed our emotionally and physically fatigued souls. Our problems didn’t go away overnight, but we started looking more closely for evidence of our sovereign and always working God. We stopped creating perfect plans for our daily actions and started seeking God’s direction. We began believing with greater conviction that God wasn’t far from this situation. In fact, He was closer than we could ever imagine.
The Disciples Depend on Jesus
The account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6 holds particular significance for me in light of a January I’m thankful is in the past. The words of the familiar story highlight tangible truths about the power of pursuing dependence on God.
Jesus told the disciples to feed the people. One might almost think that Jesus performed the miracle as a Plan B because the disciples couldn’t figure out how to provide food.
However, Jesus knew what He was about to do from the very beginning. He knew that He was going to miraculously multiply the fish and the bread. I imagine that He was looking to His disciples to turn to Him to solve the puzzling problem of feeding the people. Jesus wanted them to release control of the situation, to express their need for His intervention, and to watch God act.
A crowd of full people and twelve baskets of leftovers. Twelve baskets! Certainly this wasn’t a mistake. How could the God who knows the number of hairs on our head miscalculate the amount of fish and bread needed by the crowd?
God didn’t miscalculate.
The crowd and the disciples were dependant on the miraculous provision of God. Ultimately, God met the needs of the people beyond anything they could have asked or imagined. The twelve leftover baskets pointed to God’s ability to abundantly provide.
God was glorified. People saw Him display His power in a way that would give all confidence to trust in the goodness of God.
What happened next was even more remarkable. A few chapters later, Christ did the same thing. Well, not quite the same. This time 4,000 satisfied tummies and seven baskets of leftovers. The disciples again expressed confusion about how they were going to feed the people. Jesus again miraculously multiplied fish and loaves.
Those were my initial thoughts, followed quickly by deep awareness of my own sinful heart. I saw the reality of my desire to grasp control and search for solutions to challenges myself. Silly me! How like the disciples I am time and time again. Watching the hand of God at work and then forgetting that same hand the next time I encounter major or minor challenges.
Christ calls us to be dependent on Him. For me, this dependency is often easiest when it seems clear that solutions will not be forthcoming outside of the miraculous intervention of Christ. However, dependency isn’t based on my ability or inability. Dependency is what Christ calls me to in the situations that seem out of my control. However, I think, more importantly in the situations that seem very much inside my control.
By the end of those stressful, chaotic January days, we had our new used car in our possession. My heart felt grateful looking at God’s answer to our need in the same sapphire shade as our previous vehicle. My mind wandered back to my husband’s dream: always drive a blue car. It made me think of Christ and His leftover baskets of bread and fish. Abundant provision. After all the stress and uncertainty, my heavenly Father saw fit to honor my husband’s simple dream of long ago. Not just a needed car, but a blue car too.
My choice to be dependant on God is my choice to yield my control to Him. This choice doesn’t necessarily magically produce perfect results or proverbial blue cars or abundant earthly provision.
What it does mean is that God is with me. Always. He hasn’t left, and He is at work all around me whether I can see it or not. Dependency on God is ultimately not because of twelve extra baskets, seven extra baskets, or even the provision of blue cars. Rather, depending on God is releasing control to a loving and gracious Savior who I know is acting for my good and His glory.