To Whom Do We Rely?

Jermiah 17:5-10

After reading through today's readings, my focus was drawn to the first sentence of the First Reading (Jeremiah 17:5).  It said, "Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord"  With that thought in mind, the question for us today is, "when push comes to shove, to whom do we rely?"

 

If we think about it, we can either be people of self reliance, others reliance, or Godly reliance.  What the reading is telling us, is that if we are fundamentally self reliant or others reliant, we're headed down the wrong path, seeking strength (as the reading says) in flesh. What the reading is guiding us to, is a reliance on the Lord. If we seek first the Kingdom of God, this opens the door to God's blessings.

 

The reading tells us that we are "cursed" when we trust in anyone and anything other than God. Trusting in things ultimately means we are trusting in flesh, either ourselves or others. What does cursed mean?  I think that it means that we suffer from a deprivation. We are "cursed", because we have deprived ourselves of God's blessings.

 

So, when we're in need, to whom do we rely? If we're feeling discouraged, do we submit to God in prayer, or do we flail about seeking out the approval of someone or do something that might be destructive?  If we are feeling old and abandoned, do we despair, or do we crawl into God's lap as his child... that we still are, and count his many blessings?  If someone hurts us, do we ask Jesus for healing or do we fire back at the offender, demanding an apology?
 

The gravitational pull of reliance on the flesh effects all of society, and the cumulative effect of this makes it doubly hard for each of us to live a Godly life. God's words today expose the fallibility of cultural and government leaders who lead us away from Godly reliance.

 

The culture and its leaders, encourage, and make fashionable: pride, gluttony, lust - all the deadly sins - all those things that have us reliant on either ourselves or others.

 

Our political system and its leaders who are oftentimes at the political extremes exasperate our reliance issues as well. For example, there are leaders with an extreme libertarian bent that advocate a callous self reliance among the people, cutting programs that help the poor. On the other hand, there are those with an extreme liberal bent that advocate a callous other reliance among the people. They create an entitlement society (an institutional other reliance) where, instead of lifting up the less fortunate, they demoralize them by making them more reliant on others through government.

 

It's hard to train ourselves to seek first the Kingdom of God, when this gravitational pull of society pulls us toward either self reliance or others reliance. But no one but God can ever give us enough of what we really need – no one else can give us enough love, enough hope, enough faith, enough attention, enough reliable guidance, enough kindness, enough understanding, or anything else that we need.
 

Self, or other reliance lead us to be like that barren bush that Jeremiah mentioned. We're stranded in the desert, we're hot, thirsty and wilting.
 

But, blessed are we though, if we trust in the Lord, remaining reliant on him.  We live like the tree that grows besides the waters. We grow close to God's heart.  We don't fear the heat when it comes. We know God's love will overcome any problems that threaten us.
 

Amidst a drought, when everything seems to be going wrong, we don't worry about what we don't have, because our joy comes from that place in our souls where our friendship with God thrives. Our faith still bears good fruits. By waiting upon the Lord and relying upon his guidance, whatever we do, prospers (as it said in today's Psalm).
 

So, let us pray today that we can go deeper in our prayer and our reliance on God for our every need.  We pray that the anxieties that we feel of every day life can be overcome, not by trying to compete against our demons but allowing them to be defeated by God's blessings.  The kingdom of God is already here - its within us. We only need to choose to claim it for ourselves through our reliance on God.

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