We gathered to remember one of our closest family friends this weekend. The pastor at their home church was gracious (and grateful) enough to allow our family to participate in the service. I preached, and my dad shared memories, including some written by my mom.
One of the stories my dad told of our friend Arlene was a of a time when he was taking his aunt to the doctor and was hit with debilitating pain. He asked his aunt to wait in the car while he went back into the doctor’s office and asked them to call 911. I was a kid in school, and my mother was out of town, and his elderly aunt was sitting in the car. Dad thought, “I’ll call Arlene.” Arlene retrieved my aunt and deposited her back at her assisted living facility, picked me up at school, took me to the hospital so I could see my dad was alright (he was), and then took me back to her house until my mom could get back. “I knew I could always depend on Arlene,” my dad said.
I had never really thought about it before, but that’s one of the best things you could say about someone, isn’t it? I always knew I could depend on you.
Dependability is really a spiritual gift. God is often referred to as a rock (Psalm 62:7, 2 Samuel 22:47, Acts 4:11 to name just a few), a dependable force that is unmoving. We are told we can depend on God’s steadfast and unchanging love. (2 Timothy 2:13, James 1:17). God is dependable.
Psalm 62:7 (CEB)
My deliverance and glory depend on God.
God is my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.
So to be someone others can count on is one way to be “imitators of God” as we are called to be in Ephesians 5:1. Dependability is not often something we consider God-like, but it is totally God-like. Answering when people call. Showing up in times of need. An ever-present help in times of struggle. And doing all of those things consistently. Can’t get much more God-like than that.
Ephesians 5:1 (CEB)
Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children.
In our culture, the word dependable has become synonymous with “dull.” Describing a car or a person as dependable is code for “not very exciting.” You can find headlines that read “Dull but dependable Shell Oil/Encyclopedia Britannica/Volvo/etc” all over the web. There’s even a writing website that offers up “dependable” as a positive alternative to describe someone who is dull and boring.
This has to stop.
Dependable is anything but boring. If you want to be sure that your life has had meaning and makes a difference in this world, then be dependable. Be the person others can count on. Be the steadfast rock. Be the name who, when someone finds themselves on a gurney worried about an elderly person and a child in their care, is the one that immediately springs to mind as someone who can be depended upon to help.
Then maybe at the end of your life, someone will get up and say, “I knew that I could always count on (insert name here). Is there really a better eulogy than that?
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Doubting Believer is a progressive and inclusive community of Christians. Follow us on Facebook, sign up for emails or learn more about our member group.