“I’ve got to take care of myself. No one is going to look out for me.” These are some of the thoughts that have become more and more prevalent as our society has fractured and isolated itself. There are a couple of problems with this type of thinking. First, it places all the reliance on what our future will be like in our hands. This is nonsense. We aren’t in control. If you want an example of that, go outside and attempt to take command of the weather. All our efforts could be undone by a single event, as we have seen over the last few months. So to think that we alone can determine our future is illogical. That’s not to absolve us of the responsibility to do our best. This isn’t an excuse for us to give up and say, “What will be, will be.” God expects us to take responsibility and accountability. But we must do so realizing that there are other things going on and that we aren’t in control – He is.
The second thing wrong is that this line of thinking is proving more and more correct in our society. I look at my neighborhood, sadly at my own example, and realize that I don’t know my neighbors like I did when I was a kid. If one of them was struggling and in trouble, I can say that only in a handful of cases would I be likely to know about it and be in a position to help. Somehow we’ve forgotten that there is strength in numbers, that we are social creatures who need each other more than we’d like to admit. But because we’ve drifted from that time when being a neighbor meant you had a relationship with the person living next to you or a few doors down, we can’t rely on each other for support when the trials of life hit.
And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – Genesis 2:8-9, ESV
The first issue can be remedied by remembering that God will be there for us. Having created everything, He specifically carved out a place for Adam to live safely, where all Adam’s needs would be provided. It’s important to note that it wasn’t just man’s physical needs (food, shelter, safety) that God met:
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. – Genesis 2:18-22, ESV
Man’s emotional needs were covered, too. Man needed companionship. He needed someone to share the burden. And thus Eve was brought to Adam. In the Garden Man was completed physically, emotionally, and spiritually (after all, God walked with Adam). This is the way God wants to work in our lives. It meets with the promises He has given us. The catch is to recognize that only He can provide all that we need. That means to let go of the thinking that we’ve got to take care of ourselves and that no one is looking out for us. It’s flawed thinking. God is looking out for us. God is taking care of us. That is what He has promised. That is what He will deliver. We just need to get off the throne, thinking we’re the one in charge, and allow Him to sit upon that which is rightly His. We need to change our thinking to reflect this, “God is going to take care of me. He is looking out for me and will provide all I need. My obedience is key to this, though, so that I’m at the right place at the right time to receive His sustenance and aid.” See how different that is? But it works. The saints throughout the ages testify to the effectiveness of having an outlook on life like this.
By the way, that obedience thing addresses the second line of thinking, too. When we’re obedient, we become the help for the ones around us. We become the neighbor who cares when no one else does. We become an extension of God, we become His provided help, we are His instruments of love. So it’s not just about being obedient so our needs are met, it’s also about being obedient so we can be part of meeting the needs of others. But all that comes about only when we say, “I can’t, but you can, Lord,” and we yield to His will and His plan. Adam and Eve forgot this. They walked away from His will and His plan as they strove to be like Him. And when they did so, they put themselves out of the path for His aid and support. Even when given a chance to get back on track, they stood apart. We’ll look into that in more detail soon. However, what we can take from it is we don’t have to follow in the footsteps of our predecessors who have chosen to go their own way. Rather, we can choose to love and follow God, to put Him back on the throne of our lives rather than trying to push Him off, and we can choose to dwell in the garden He has prepared for each one of us.