We have many things and places we choose to run to for refuge, strength, and comfort. When we have a bad day, we post our plight on social media or text a friend to see if someone will commiserate; we look for distraction in binge-watching a favorite show; we search for comfort in unhealthy ways, like food, shopping or pleasure.
When we are anxious we often keep ourselves in that state by continuing to dwell on the source of our anxiety. If we just “stress out” enough, we think we might be able to simply will the desired outcome to come to pass. Or we avoid the issue all together and just “hope” that our worse case scenario won’t happen. Sometimes we cry out to God in a desperate attempt to forestall the impending consequences that we want to avoid. However we manage our feelings, our assumption is that life would be better if we didn’t have to suffer at any level at all.
This is outcome-oriented living. Psalm 46 gives a different perspective: God-oriented living.
This is how we’re meant to live, like young children who trust the comfort, security, and strength of a parent. Young children (in stable, loving environments) live in a world that is full of wonder, joy and hope. This is possible because they have a source of refuge and strength that is outside themselves in the form of their parents. They are relationship-oriented. Like my daughter who seeks sanctuary between my legs, children know that there is only one place to go if they are scared or in need. “They run to the legs.” They don’t need to understand, they just need to get to the person whom they expect to help.
But something changes along the way. We turn into outcome-oriented adults. As we get older the unknown does not become less scary. Rather we’ve been taught that we are “strong” enough” and can “get” through it or over it. Being strong enough to get through something or fix our own problem is only necessary when we are results/outcome-oriented: meaning achieving our preferred outcome is our highest goal. The truth is, trying to just deal on our own is not how we were created to live. Maturity is more dependence on God, not less.
We can only move from being outcome-oriented to God-oriented when we seek to be in a proper relationship with God. This is the better option. As Christ followers, we have said that we want God to be our King, but we often fail to trust him with anything except our salvation. We view unwanted circumstance as a foe to be vanquished. We are too often caught unaware and unready for our lives to be less than perfect.
Instead, we should take the perspective that trouble and difficulty do indeed come, but we need not fear because we know just what to do. “We run to the legs” of our King … because he is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. This changes my prayers, this changes my attitude. It moves me from being a person that is defined by unrealistic expectations of an easy life, which are only met through all success and no trouble, to a person who sees myself as a child of a God who will give me refuge when I need it, will display and allocate his strength on my behalf, and is always available to be what he has always wanted to be – My King.
What circumstances do you need to trust God with today? Rather than dreading the situation or the possible outcomes, how can you run to the legs of God and choose to face the unknown with God-confidence?