Rely on God alone

A father once asked one of his three little daughters who had just gone to bed, if she had said her prayers.  When she said  that she hadn’t, he asked  if she was frightened  going to bed without having prayed.  She answered “not tonight Dad, for it is my turn to sleep in the middle.”  When telling this story over a hundred years ago to a church congregation, Dr John Robertson went on to add, “I can relate to the feelings of that little girl.  When I was in the middle of a large congregation I felt I did not have to rely on God.  I had a vast church around me, great ecclesiastical authorities to support me, and I was an influential man – a Moderator of the Presbytery of the City of Edinburgh.  With all these things around me, I didn’t feel any great need to lean on God.  I began to feel I could do without prayer, because ‘I was in the middle’.  Now I am retired however, and I am no longer in the middle – I now realise I can’t do without the Lord Jesus”.

In Psalm 118 verse 9 it warns “it is better to trust in the Lord, than to put your confidence in man.”

I wonder how many of you have noticed that often the last thing people ever think about today is God.  When trouble comes they call on the help of Social Services, or the NHS.  They rely on the support of neighbours or friends, or rely on the support of  benefits.  Again, it is very noticeable that when some large scale tragedy occurs we are informed that “counsellors are being brought in to help the bereaved” – only a decade ago it would have been clergy that would have provided this service.  It seems to be that the more material and social help there is around us the less people think about praying to God for His help.  Contrast this with say a hundred years ago.  In those days there was no welfare state, no financial safety net and no team of counsellors.  Poverty really was poverty and medical treatment was in its infancy.  With many people God would be the first Person they would approach for help – not the last.  As far as they were concerned God was the One to be relied on to help.

Today all too many people are putting their “confidence in man” in other words they are relying on material things such as their wealth or health, they are relying on their financial security, their job, pension ,family or whatever.  They seem confident that these things will never fail.  They feel “they are in the middle” and don’t need God. But Scripture teaches that we must not put our trust in earthly things – the only one we can really rely on is the Lord Himself.  Trouble comes to everyone of us at some point in many forms so while all is going well it is vital to make sure we are not relying on anything other than God. 

Taking an example from the world of finance this is a lesson that those with savings in Northern Rock will no doubt have thought about!  Again, those  with savings in other financial institutions may feel quite confident that all is well – but the economic state of the country – indeed the entire world is far from “well”.  The Bible states “do not put your trust in uncertain riches”, and never has this warning been truer than in today’s climate.  As I visit around the parish I often ask myself the question “how would this family or that family cope if they lost their material support such as their wealth, their house, their health, their circle of friends etc?   They rely on these things, they depend on them – they feel “they are safe in the middle” and give no thought about God.  What would they do if they lost it all?  To whom would they turn?  What preparation have they made in heart and soul for such a time of trouble?  In Deuteronomy Chapter 8 is a very timely word of caution; “when you have eaten and are full beware that you do not forget the Lord your God, lest when you have eaten and are full and have built beautiful houses and your silver and gold are multiplied, and all your possessions are multiplied, that you forget all about God, ……….. you must remember that it is God who has given you these things.”  God has given us all these things to enjoy, not to rely or depend on.  They have been given as a blessing, not as something to take over our lives. 
What has happened today is that many people have replaced “God” with material possessions and society is all the poorer for it.