I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic. Without a doubt, the greatest lesson I’ve learned through it is to depend not on myself, but God. (I believe it’s no accident that it appeared the same month my first book came out in 1985—so that I wouldn’t credit myself for that which God has gifted me in and graciously empowers me for.)
Every day I must take insulin injections (for many years manually, more recently with a pump) and blood tests. Each time I do, I’m reminded of my own frailty and inadequacy. In an immediate sense I’m dependent on my insulin to live. In an ultimate sense, I’m dependent on God to live. As Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Usually I live a normal life, but sometimes I’ve lain helpless, stiff as a board, not in my right mind, needing my wife to get sugar in my mouth. My once-strong body grows weak. Low blood sugar clouds my judgment and leaves me with a memory of having said stupid things, like a drunk.
This humbles me. But I can honestly say I’m grateful for it; yes, I even delight in it because my weakness draws me to greater dependence upon Christ.
Now, writing isn’t a disease (some might argue that point), but like my disease, it shows my weaknesses. In my writing I hit dead ends, wander in cul-de-sacs, waste days headed the wrong direction and occasionally nearly drive off the cliff. I’m never more keenly aware of my dependence on the Lord than when I’m writing a book.
Charles Hummel wrote that “the root of all sin is self-sufficiency—independence from God.” God has taught me that whether we write or build or draw or fix things or make a home for our families, He wants us to yield our gifts to Him, and depend on Him for the next step, even the next breath. I don't always succeed, but that's what I seek to do in my writing.
When Paul asked God to remove his disability, which he called a “thorn in the flesh,” instead of healing Paul (which might have resulted in him becoming self-sufficient) God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." So Paul wrote, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I’ve often asked God to give me strength, wisdom and perseverance as I write, and to just give me the right words. I do my part, as the junior partner, while God does his much greater part, as the senior partner, that in turn allows me to do mine: As Paul said, “I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29).
I’m challenged and encouraged by these words from Charles Spurgeon:
Self-sufficiency is Satan’s net, wherein he catches men, like poor silly fish, and does destroy them. Be not self-sufficient. Think yourselves nothing, for you are nothing, and live by God’s help. The way to grow strong in Christ is to become weak in yourself. God pours no power into man’s heart till man’s power is all poured out. Live, then, daily, a life of dependence on the grace of God.
Lord, help us to humbly remember our dependence on You and Your grace. Thank you for the privilege of being Your instruments.
photo credit via photopin (license)
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.