Success, at least in my mind, means being secure. I want to be secure from worries about money, work, health, family, etc. I imagine a future of stress-free bliss, where I am protected from any physical or emotional harm. Of course, this vision of success involves having some sort of financial or spiritual protection from harm. Unfortunately, this is something that is nearly impossible to achieve. Sure, maybe I could become wealthy enough to be free of financial worry, but worries about loved ones, or other events beyond my control, would no doubt persist.In today’s first reading, the Israelites, fresh from their liberation from slavery in Egypt, have decided that slavery wasn’t so bad after all. They have been marching through the desert and are hungry and afraid. "Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt,” the people say to Moses, “as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!"Moses makes his case to God about these ungrateful people and God devises a plan to restore their faith. "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites,” God tells Moses. “Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God."It is far better to depend on the unconditional love and generosity of God than it is to depend on my own efforts to take care of myself.So each evening, quail fill the encampment, and each morning, bread is waiting for the people when they rise. They come to believe that God is someone they can trust to take care of them, day by day.Now, there’s an interesting component to this story. They don’t get enough food to stockpile. The people have to depend on God’s daily provision. This means that they can’t build storehouses to protect themselves to a point where they can ignore God’s provision.Each week when I pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” it doesn’t really mean too much to me. I mean, I have enough money to buy food for a week or two. I don’t really have to depend on God for my daily bread. Yet I do. My vision of success really involves insulation from need, and, really, protection from having to depend on God to meet my needs. I find that I long to be in a position of financial, spiritual and emotional independence.This is not how faith works. We are called to trust God to meet our needs every day. This is difficult because it means that we cannot meet all of our own needs. I know this is true, intellectually, but I find it very difficult to practice. I don’t want to be dependent. But experience and the Gospel tells me that I am, and that, ultimately, this is a good thing.It is far better to depend on the unconditional love and generosity of God than it is to depend on my own efforts to take care of myself. In the end, I just can’t do it. I am not able to address every possible scenario that might threaten me. And why would I want to try and take care of myself when a loving God promises so much more? It’s a failure to trust, or to believe that God in his goodness is a more reliable source of security than I am. Thank God that he forgives me my arrogance, and offers his unswerving love and care nonetheless. Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected].