Counsel about Dependence

Jesus counsels Peter about his old age, and his death. "When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where
you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where
you do not want to go." For the macho to have to contemplate dependence on others to take care of them was hard to

John Stott, in The Radical Disciple, his last book before he died, writes a chapter on dependence. I stayed with him
when he was writing this book. He was already infirm, unable to walk, confined to a wheelchair, and dependent on
an attendant to take care of him. He tells the story of his fall which resulted in a fractured hip and the dependence
which was new to him. He cites the movie Driving Miss Daisy, in which the widow became dependent on her
driver Hoke. "A refusal to be dependent on others is not a mark of maturity but immaturity... dependence is the most
characteristic attitude for the radical disciple. God's design for our life is that we should become dependent on him and
on one another. We come into this world totally dependent on the love, care and protection of others.

We go through a phase of life when other people depend on us. And most of us will go out of this world totally
dependent on the love and care of others. And this is not an evil, destructive reality. It is part of the design, part of the
physical nature that God had given us. I sometimes hear old people, including Christian people who should know
better, say, 'I don't want to be a burden to anyone else. I'm happy to carry on living so long as I can look after myself,
but as soon as I become a burden I would rather die.'

But this is wrong. We are all designed to be a burden to others. You are designed to be a burden to me and I am
designed to be a burden to you. And the life of the family, including the life of the local church family, should be
one of 'mutual burdensomeness.' "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ"
(Galatians 6:2). Christ himself takes on the dignity of dependence. He is born a baby, totally dependent on the care
of his mother. He needs to be fed, he needs his bottom to be wiped, he needs to be propped up when he rolls over.
And yet he never loses his divine dignity. And at the end, on the cross, he again becomes totally dependent, limbs
pierced and stretched, unable to move. So in the person of Christ we learn that dependence does not, cannot,
deprive a person of their dignity, of their supreme worth. And if dependence was appropriate for the God of the
universe, it is certainly appropriate for us." (pp.110f.)