September 12, 2019

Belly Button Theology

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 12, 2019 

Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 1 Chronicles 29:14

A pastor friend of mine frequently uses a teaching illustration that he calls “belly button theology.” Odd as it may sound, there are two profound truths that you can learn by turning your eyes downward towards your midsection: you are not self-originating and you are not self-sustaining. And while these may seem to be obvious points, we so often try to convince ourselves otherwise!

On the one hand, you are not self-originating. You did not simply will yourself into being. You are not a self-made man or woman. When you enter the world you step into a long and beautiful story that precedes you and will outlive you, and this is true on multiple levels. Your family of origin has a story: beloved places to vacation, cities and towns that carry incredible significance, a love for music that extends through multiple generations, as well as unhealthy relational habits and patterns of brokenness and abuse that need to be identified and broken so you can be free. Similarly, your national identity is a great story of triumph and heroism, as well as systemic injustice and inequality. 

As a Christian, you enter into the story God is telling over all of creation, with Jesus at the center and you and I learning of his faithfulness in the past, in our present realities, and pointing others to the hope that is to come. In every area, our job is to learn to identify the stories of which we are a part, receive the best parts of them, heal wounds as best we can, and pass these stories on to those that come after us.

Similarly, not only are you not self-originating, your ongoing role in the story of life is entirely sustained and supported by others. We learn this as infants supported in our mother’s wombs, yet we are forgetful people and quickly think this is something we must “grow out of,” and the sooner the better. Yet how often do the scriptures seek to remind us of our dependency, that our days are fleeting (Psalm 39:4), that it is the Lord who sees us and cares for us (Matthew 6:26-30), that it is in him that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). 

To acknowledge your limitations is not a sign of failure or weakness but is the beginning of wisdom! As Proverbs 9:10 reminds us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” To fear the LORD is to see him as he truly is, and to see ourselves as we truly are meant to be seen. We are dependent creatures who cannot save ourselves and are in need of his grace to daily sustain us and make us whole. 

If you find yourself wearied and beaten down by the expectation to constantly do more, be more, produce more, achieve more, breath deeply today and be reminded of these central truths: you are always safe because you are a part of God’s great story of salvation, and he will forever sustain and keep you as you make your way on your journey.


Father, remind us daily that we are a part of your story and that you are faithful to sustain us and care for us through every trial and storm. Amen.


Where have you lost sight of the fact that you are neither self-originating nor self-sustaining?

Related Reading

Job 12:10; Psalm 31:15-24; John 10:28

Post/Tweet today

Belly buttons prove we are not self-originating and we are not self-sustaining. #WisdomHunters #dependent #Jesus

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4-minute video- Elevation Worship: 


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