Depending on God is basic to Christian living. God dependence is the essence of acknowledging Him, and looking to Him alone for sustenance and protection. Jesus said: “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear muchfruit; for you can do nothing without me” (John 15:5). One of the spiritual laws of receiving from God is total surrender to Him. Without faith, surrender is only make-believe, and faith is the channel of all grace.
Today, life coaches bombard us with quick solutions to all of life’s problems and advertise seminars and workshops with captivating titles like Stairway to a Successful Life, Steps to Happiness, Secrets to Fulfilment, and the list goes on… The emphasis here is solely on self-reliance and generous doses of positive auto suggestion. While self-reliance and auto suggestion are commendable practices in themselves, when adopted as ‘mantras’ to the exclusion of an absolute and constant source of power, they fail to be effective. Understandably, each of us desires a life of success and fulfilment; however, life often throws up surprises that can derail the stairway to our dreams. Life gurus at these seminars, typically do not touch upon scenarios where life plans have gone away. Their coaching focuses only on how to get there – to the pinnacle of achievement and applause. What happens in the event of a misfortune or a mishap is rarely touched upon. What to do in such an eventuality is left to the individual’s grit and coping strategies.
How then does a young adult deal with distress situations? What are the coping mechanisms available? How does one stay afloat in a sea of anxiety and pain when all your best laid plans come crashing down?
It is precisely in situations of loss and disappointment that young people need a safety net. At such times they search desperately for sources of support and sustenance that can provide solace and are lasting. Even loving family members may not always be able to help out effectively, and it is practically impossible to provide absolute guarantees of constancy to another person, good intentions notwithstanding. In such a scenario, what are the options? Who can they count on? These are pertinent issues the young generation face today. There is perhaps a vital link missing in their lives. It is in this context that we need to examine how parents can equip children with a crucial life skill that will endure. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
A very important life skill parents need to instil in children is the practice of being God dependent at all times and in all things. This type of dependence should be adopted as a way of life, and not merely used as a band aid in times of crisis. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way” (Proverbs 3:5 – 6). These verses are etched in my memory, having heard it recited repeatedly by my father whose life is a testament to total dependence on God. They have also served me well in life whenever I’ve had the good sense to speak it into my life and rest in His assurance.
God dependence, however, cannot be imparted to children overnight. It is a habit that needs to be inculcated from an early age. Parents are the child’s first teachers and role models. Everything a parent says or does is observed by the child, and his attitudes and behaviour patterns are to a great extent moulded by these experiences. When parents prioritise God’s providence and protection high on their belief system, it is bound to impact their children positively. In this way, children learn to place their trust in God with problems big and small.
In addition to role modelling God dependence in their lives, parents can also familiarise children with Scripture verses that focus on the faithfulness of God and His promises of protection. Two favourite verses that I regularly resort to are Isaiah 41:13, “For I the Lord your God will hold your right hand, saying unto you, Fear not; I will help you” and Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” These verses always provide me with an inner strength that helps me manage difficult situations with greater confidence and composure. Children who are trained to pray Scripture verses into the troubled circumstances of life are reportedly better able to deal with problems that come their way.
Above all else, parents can be prayer warriors for their children all through life. Praying for children is an empowering tool that envelops them in God’s protection. Alfred Lord Tennyson expressed it beautifully in “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”