I started thinking about this issue when my 14 year old grandson gave me the gift of a walking stick for Mothers' Day. (I walk for exercise on our quiet subdivision road.) It is not an ordinary, run-of-the-mill hiking pole, but a specialty cane carved out of natural hardwood and 54 inches tall! It is hand-crafted folk art with a carved eagle's head at the top. Jeffrey knows that the eagle motif is the décor in my home which I have named “Eagle Summit.” (Moses in the Bible, who is often depicted with a staff, might have been jealous of my stylish design!) “Grandma, if a ferocious wolf comes out of the woods while you're walking, you can bonk him with the sharp eagle's beak!” Jeffrey advises.
Recently, my friend Tillie told me about the “HurryCane” she had acquired to help her in her increasing geriatric uncertain balance. She needed some secure assistance in walking. She actually sounded like a sales person: “Sand, gravel, or snow, it keeps me on the go! It has three pronged feet with cups on them, and they pivot like my ankle and its so easy on my wobbly knees. Would you believe, it can stand by itself! It adjusts to my height, and folds up so easily. It comes in decorator colors. Do you like my flower design? My cane even lights my way in the dark! It has restored my self-confidence and I'm not afraid of falling and breaking my hip now. You should see me on the hiking trail!” I would say that Tillie at age 90 is certainly a model of independent living.
Then I visited my friend Mae in a large care residence for seniors with limited mobility. She was tooling around like a race car driver along the carpeted halls in what she called her “Harley!” Too fancy to be called a walker, it was referred to as a “Rollator.” One resident called hers a Rolls-Royce for its smooth rolling action! It had 8 inch wheels, fully padded seat, extra thick backrest, rubber handles with thumb supports, and a handy basket for carrying her items. Other options available to soup it up are a cup holder, detachable eating tray, and a hanging carry-all saddle bag. And even ergonomic hand-brakes (in case speed would factor in at times, I guess!)
Mae told me that there was good-natured competition going on among the residents to compare their “mobile units” (as they used to do with their bikes in their youth and their autos in their prime years) and some residents even decorate them seasonally. One gentleman added a bicycle bell and a bike light to his mobile unit, and some of the ladies attached bike license plates for I.D! Still another had colored paper streamers trailing from the handles and wound around the steel body. “You should see our “parking lot” outside the dining room at meal time,” laughed Mae. At age 95 she was unwilling to become dependent on others, no matter how realistically it might be the fullness of time for her to accept help.
I was impressed that all these efforts were focused on our natural, human desire to remain independent as long as possible. A worthy desire, of course. We are accustomed to fending for ourselves, and not only so, but many of us have been caretakers of others during much of our lifetime—spouses, children, parents. We ourselves don't want to feel weak and needy. We want to keep feeling strong and in control. We don't want to feel vulnerable. We find it difficult and uncomfortable to see ourselves in a position of having to be cared for now. Truly, it is harder to receive help than to give help—as much as we might really need help.
A toddler who is learning to feed himself, put on his socks, or do other simple tasks that his parents have up to now been doing for him, before long demands,“Me do it!” and refuses help. He wants to be independent. He doesn't want you to hold his hand anymore when walking. He wants to run ahead. The inexperienced child wants to walk alone. We should be glad that he is growing in independence, although we shudder when we see him doing things imperfectly and taking his tumbles and bumps and getting hurt in the process.
Bringing it into the spiritual realm, it would seem that God looks at this matter of independence the other way around. In our Christian walk we may be mistaken if we consider spiritual maturity as becoming independent from God—insisting on doing it our way, by ourselves, not leaning on Him, walking alone without His help. He wants to work through our weakness, wants us to lean hard on Him, seek and depend on His counsel for everything. Not lean on our own understanding; not depend on our own “horses and chariots” no matter how much horse power our modern chariots may have. “Without Me, you can do nothing” is quite clearly God's modus operandi. Sometimes He lovingly but purposely allows us to come to a point of helplessness, of diminished strength, loss of health, of being faint and weary with the length of life's journey, so that when we are weak, then He can infuse His power into us. (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)
Our utter dependence upon the Lord pleases Him.
He wants to be our rod and staff and walker.