Independent or Dependent?
Americans are in love with the idea of independence. Every Fourth of July the entire country gathers around grills with fire crackers to celebrate the notion that our country’s forefathers broke away from Great Britain and declared the United States independent.
Independence can be a good thing. We all want our children to grow into a measure of independence. We expect them to learn how to take care of themselves. We want them to be independent but we do not want them to be so independent that they become disconnected from us. We all love the idea of independence until it metaphors into detachment or selfishness and even though our children may grow independent from us monetarily they will always be dependent on someone in the world.
I have discovered that dependence is actually more real than independence. We all like to think of ourselves as independence but what if the trash company decided to never do business again. What if the people that are responsible for piping water and gas to our homes decided they no longer wanted to be in that business and destroyed all of their technology and infrastructure never to be seen again? What if our military service men and women decided not to fight when terror was at our door? What if all the teachers and professors decided not to share their knowledge and burn all the books? If all this happened in one week we would all be forced to admit that we are actually more DEPENDENT than we are independent. None of us could have children by ourselves. No the very nature of the job requires co-operation and the combining of strengths and weaknesses. I know men like to call women the weaker sex but I have never met a man that was strong enough to carry a 7 pound baby and then push it out of his belly button.
No, God has made us all dependent on others.
So if me and you are in fact actually dependent to at least some degree on other people to invent, to build, to cook, to maintain or teach how much more are we actually dependent on the living God. He is creator of all that is, sustainer of all life, savior and righteous judge. The being that never fails, never sleeps and never gets tired. Aren’t we all dependent on him, even more so, than any other?
This fact of our Powerful Dependence is easy to forget because of the faithfulness of God. Because of his love for us, God never withholds, or quits or gives up on us. He never forgets or fails to call the Sun up again or the fields of gravity down again. Every second of every day he never fails to breathe oxygen into our lunges.
We are gifted humans but not independent
I like people. Human beings are wonderful creatures. We laugh, we run, we climb, we think, we paint and write. We have in fact been fearfully made but we are also fragile, in need of nourishment every few hours. We are forgetful, prideful and sometimes selfish. We get confused, and bullied, anxious and tired, and if we were really honest and if we could unplug from our social media highlight pages and stop pretending we could admit that we often need serious help. If we could be honest we could admit that there are times in our lives that if we don’t get that help, assistance, direction or restoration we could easily be trapped in a prison of our own making. Depression and fear are very real companions of most people alive.
We all like to project an image of independence, strength and brilliance to others, especially on social media, but we don’t want them to really see our real truth. Our spiritual nakedness and inward reality are often not strong or brilliant. We all know that deep down other people are just like us. They can bring us food to table, sell us books and play sports for us but you and I know that the one thing another human being could never do is fix our inward dependence.
For this we must be honest with a God about our secrets that he already knows. It can sometimes be easier to share a secret with someone who doesn’t know the secret. At least then we have some discretion about what we will share and how we will paint it. We can tell them that we did all we could but still failed because of circumstances out of our control. We can tell them about how brave or bullied we were in the situation. We can make them see, with our words, whatever we need them to see so that they will pity or celebrate us.
With God this strategy does not work. God already knows every real detail that we would normally leave out to another person. Every prideful thought and every weakness He sees. God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:1-4). He knows our motives and our secret celebrations of evil. He knows our pain and our struggles but the wonderful thing about The Father is that He also loves us with a deep abiding love.
Despite our frailty and our hidden secrets He cares for us faithfully. The Father wants us to admit we are powerfully dependent on Him and from that confession He gives us whatever we truly need to grow and prosper. When we are completely honest God is always there to give life in the midst of injury, forgiveness to a guilty soul and water to a thirsty heart. We are powerfully dependent on Jesus. He designed us that way. Our dependence gives Him glory.
The reality of our dependence on God is one of our greatest motivations for relationship with Him. Like a child for a parent, the thing that keeps the baby crying for his mother is his powerful dependence on her milk. Without that dependence we might think ourselves independent and without need. The spirit of fallen humanity is to think we are fully independent from anyone or anything but what a tragedy that would make us all. Without the reality of dependence we would be tempted to continue to carry burdens that no longer served us. We would continue taking test after test, failing despite our mastery of the answers because without God we have no power to execute those answers. We can teach them and write them and picture them but we cannot perform them without the empowerment of Jesus (John 15:4-10). “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” How many times have people become thirsty right next to a lake because we were not drinking? One famous politician said that no matter what the national unemployment rate is, if you are unemployed then unemployment is 100%. Likewise it doesn’t matter if I once had a connection with God or if my mom has a connection with God, if my connection is now broken I can do nothing. We must stay connected and dependent on Jesus. Powerfully Dependent.
Weakness or Powerful Dependence
The dependence of an infant child for her mother is not a picture of weakness but of beauty. When a husband admits to his loving wife that he is in need of her care, it is not weakness but powerful relationship. Likewise when we admit our dependence on Jesus we are not weak but powerfully dependent. Just as Jesus was dependent on the Father so are we also powerfully dependent on Jesus to wash us, hear us, forgive us and empower us to be our best.
Let’s not be prideful or weak minded thinking ourselves so independent, but let’s be powerfully dependent on Jesus.