It’s easy to assume we’re running things, responsible for decisionmaking, for directing people and events, and for the success of whatever is our work at the time. Sometimes that responsibility can weigh heavily – until we realize that God is right at hand to help.
The story of the Old Testament prophet Elijah wonderfully illustrates this point. At a time of drought and consequent famine, God told Elijah that He had commanded a widow to provide for him. Trusting God, Elijah traveled to find this woman (see I Kings 17:8-16).
Elijah might have expected a person of wealth with a fine home waiting to help him. Instead, the woman was in a terrible situation herself. She had only enough food for one last meal for her son and herself. She then expected that they would die. Still trusting, Elijah asked the woman to first give him food, sharing with her God’s promise of continuing care until the rain came again. The woman, believing in this promise, did as Elijah asked. Subsequently they all had food for as many days as it was needed.
Like so many others in the Bible, this account reveals the power of God to care for us. It also makes the point that sustenance isn’t necessarily linked to wealth. The account of the woman chosen to sustain Elijah makes clear that necessary food and other good come from God.
It may require great humility to let go of our sense of being in charge, and to let God guide us. Key to this letting go is a thoughtful consideration of our relationship to God.
A common belief is that we’re descendants of Adam and Eve. You may recall Adam and Eve were made of dust and bone and then essentially left on their own in the garden of Eden. Alone, they were tricked into disobedience and fell out of favor with God. Both were then dismissed from God’s presence and their futures cursed.
A very different account of God’s creation is found at the beginning of the Bible. There, God made man, “male and female,” in His image, the likeness of Spirit. This means that each of us is spiritual and blessed by God. Later, after completing His creation, God evaluated it all as “very good.” According to this first account of creation, we are blessed, not cursed. Instead of being cast out, we are in accord with God, as God’s representative, as His witness.
This unity between God and His creation was affirmed by Jesus’ saying, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30). Jesus’ life and work implied an ongoing relationship with God, a relationship of provision, but also one of being able, with God’s help, to do whatever he needed to do. Jesus consistently looked to God for direction and gave glory to God for what he accomplished. He taught that we, too, have this unity with God.
In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy described this relationship of God and man as reflection. She wrote, “Man is not God, but like a ray of light which comes from the sun, man, the outcome of God, reflects God” (p. 250).
Recognizing our forever unity with God gives us confidence and dominion. We know we’re not alone.
These ideas were very helpful to me while I was part of a small group working on a year-long church project. There were many decisions, many steps. There were low points, times of doubt and fear. But each of us, trusting our ongoing relationship with God, expected that He would show us what we needed to know and do. Over and over we saw that guidance. And the project was completed in a way none of us foresaw, but to our great satisfaction. We were most grateful to God.
One central message of Bible accounts, such as the one with Elijah and the woman who provided him with food, is that God is able to care for us without limit. And that while we may have responsibilities, these are all in service to God. We are not ever in charge. God is.