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Receptivity and offering: Dependence

Lynne Baab • Wednesday April 13 2022

Receptivity and offering: Dependence

A morning prayer:
“Faithful God, I have awakened to your new day. Let me rejoice and be glad in it. I turn to you at its threshold because I depend completely on your strength. I have not made myself, cannot keep myself, could never save myself. And so, loving God, I give myself to you for this day – my creator, keeper and savior.”
—Cornelius Plantinga, Morning and Evening Prayers

Dr. Plantinga was one of my favorite seminary professors. He came to Seattle from Calvin Seminary, where he was a theology professor at the time, to teach an intensive for Fuller Seminary’s Seattle extension. I would have been about 35 years old, in the middle of a ten year stint of earning a three-year theology degree part time. I had young children at home, I was struggling with depression, and my Fuller classes were an anchor in my disjointed and baffling life.

When I saw last month that Dr. Plantinga had published a collection of prayers, I immediately bought a copy. The dependence expressed in this prayer harmonizes with the way he taught theology so many years ago. He expressed a reverence for God as he taught. He described theological truths and discussed theological controversies in a spirit of worship, gratitude, awe, wonder, and joy because of the amazing God described in the Bible and revealed in Jesus. My heart sang when he taught.

The dependence described in Dr. Plantinga's prayer is profoundly countercultural. Self-sufficiency and pride float around like a virus in Western culture. And we know how rapidly viruses can spread! I hope you have experienced, as I have, the communal pattern of life in so many other parts of the world. Having been raised an American, however, no matter how much I can appreciate a communal perspective, individualism is deeply embedded in my psyche. However, by God’s mercy I have grown so much in understanding how vital Christian community is to me.

I want to offer to God the kind of dependence Dr. Plantinga describes. I did not make myself. I cannot keep myself. I do not save myself. God is my maker, keeper and savior. I need my Christian community in order to live into this truth. I depend on my kind-hearted husband, my closest prayer partner and support person. I depend on the women in my prayer group, as well as other friends who pray for me and support me. They give me the privilege of seeing God’s hand at work in their lives, and they listen to me and pray for me. I depend on the people who read my writing. Writing helps me process my life and my faith, returning me over and over to God’s presence and perspective.

I opened this series of blog posts on receptivity and offering with these words:

“God is the initiator. God acts, we respond. We do not initiate any action that brings us into God’s presence or makes it possible for us to receive God’s love. Before we can offer any part of ourselves to God, we have to be aware that we are receiving so much from God.”

I’ve been surprised as the series has developed how often I seem to be writing about what we give to God and what God gives us in response, the reverse order of those words I wrote initially. Part of what I love about Dr. Plantinga’s prayer is that it takes us back to the basics. God is our maker, keeper, and savior. God’s action starts it all. We humbly receive, and offer back our dependence, praise and thanks to God.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.
   O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
   wrapped in light as with a garment. . . .
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
   In wisdom you have made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures. . . .
These all look to you
   to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
   when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praise to my God while I have being. (Psalm 104:1, 2, 24, 27, 28, 33)

(Next week: the journey. Illustration by Dave Baab: Sunrise on the Kepler Track, New Zealand. I love getting new subscribers. Sign up below to receive an email when I post on this blog.)

This series on receptivity and offering began back in mid-December 2021, and I’m still going strong. At this point, it looks like the series will last another month or two. Here are the early posts in the series:

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