The IRS defines a dependent as one who relies on his parents or someone else for more than half his support. According to God’s family design “growing up”, in most cases, involves moving from a state of dependency to a state of independence. Yet even the most independent among us realizes that term is purely relative — for all of us depend upon others in countless areas of our lives.
Our relationship to God gives new meaning to the term “dependent”. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Whether children, youth, adults, middle age, or senior citizens, we remain ultradependent, physically and spiritually, for everything we are and have. This humble dependent spirit pervades Luther’s Explanation to the First Article, as he cites the three great “P’s” which show our Creator-Gods ongoing hand of blessing in our lives. Our God is our Provider Protector and Preserver.
“… Richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support my body and life”. Consider the vast amount of food and natural resources needed to feed and care for this world’s five billion people. Despite repeated warnings of overpopulation, depleted natural resources, worldwide starvation, and economic doom, God still provides daily, reproducing, renewing, and replenishing His creation. Any problems that exist stem not from God’s lack of provision, but from man’s sinful greed, waste, and mishandling of His gifts.
“Truly the eyes of all wait upon You, O Lord, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Ps 145:15) Indeed is it even conceivable that our all-powerful and loving Creator who “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” would not also “freely give us all things” (Rom 8:32)?
Farmers raising chickens well recognize the threat of chicken hawks who circle the sky waiting for the little chicks to stray from the hen — only to swoop down and destroy them. Seeing the hawk the mother would call her chicks and spread her wings — under which they would dash for protection. This striking picture both our Savior (see Luke 13:34) and the Psalmist allude to: “Therefore the children of men put their trust in the shadow of Thy wings.” (Ps 36:7)
Luther puts it this way: “He defends me from all danger and guards and protects me from all evil”. Do we realize all the physical dangers that surround us daily and from which we have been spared — bacteria and virus that can invade and infect our bodies, the breakdown of our organs, accidents and natural disasters, crime that pervades our society? Even when illness, trouble, and sorrow come our way He is at our side to see us through and to strengthen us spiritually.
Consider the hordes of spiritual enemies and threats we face daily. All have been overcome for us by and through Jesus. He bids us walk and live in faith, not fear. “For The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of what shall I be afraid?” (Ps 27:1)
…”And still preserves me”. As awe-inspiring as the creation account is, the continuation and preservation these past 6000 years of all that God created may be even more marvelous. The evidence for creation was and is; evolution is not and never was. In spite of the debilitating effects of sin and the impending destruction of this universe, the hand of our Master Creator remains evident to the child of God both by faith and by sight.
Similarly the miracle of spiritual birth and life through Holy Baptism is a miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit. However, even more amazing may be the preservation of that faith until Christian death safely secures one “forever with the Lord”. This is accomplished only by ongoing application of the Word by the Spirit through Christian parents, teachers, pastors, spouses, and individuals themselves.
The words of the apostle in 1 Corinthians 4:7 are a fitting summary to the First Article: “And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it why do you glory as if you had not received it?” Have I earned and deserved any of Gods blessings? Never, answers Luther emphatically: “And all this purely out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy without any merit and worthiness in me”.
Only one response remains appropriate: “For all of which it is my duty to thank and praise to serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true!”
–Pastor David Schierenbeck