For people reading this in the United States, today is Independence Day. Americans love to celebrate the day the Continental Congress declared we were no longer subject to a king. We are able to enjoy inalienable rights—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You don’t have to live in the U.S., however, to know just how much people of all ages value independence. Toddlers proclaim, “I do it myself!” Teenagers love the freedom that comes with a driver’s license. High school graduates are ecstatic to have some separation from their parents. Many employees long for the day they are independent from a boss’ demands. Those who are older prefer to live on their own for as long as possible.
I am all for freedom and independence, both on a national level and on a personal level. Today, though, I’m wondering if maybe we have a little bit too much independence. Maybe we should cultivate and celebrate some dependence too.
Dependence on Others
My husband and I moved across the country. In our new location, we had three kids under the age of 3.5 years old. When my husband commented about not being involved or serving as many people as we had before, I said, “Who knows, maybe God brought us here because someone else needs to serve us?”
Maybe I was just tired and didn’t mind people bringing us meals. However, when I’m not sleep-deprived, I want others to think I have it all together, that I can handle it all. The truth is that sometimes I don’t and can’t—and you don’t and can’t either. When God created humans, he designed us to support each other—especially those who belong to God’s family. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4,5).
We all have times when we need help. A job loss, a fire, sudden illness, an accident, divorce, a family emergency—or even good things like an adoption or a move for a new job. Let others bless you—and get the joy of serving you—by graciously accepting their donations to the fund or meal train set up for you, by asking them to pick up a few things at the grocery store, or by sharing your hurts and letting them pray with you. If you and I try to face all the world’s challenges on our own, we get lonely and start to believe we are all alone. The more we stay apart, the further apart we’ll grow, leaving us at risk of letting Satan achieve his goal to separate us from the family.
Dependence on God
At the risk of offending some people, I really am not a fan of the phrases, “Do your part so God can do his.” Or, “Do your best, and God will do the rest.” Those make it seem like we’re in charge of our lives and God is reduced to the role of caulk, filling in the gaps.
Here’s the reality. It all starts with faith. There’s nothing we could do to save ourselves. We were dead in our sins and couldn’t make ourselves come back to life. Jesus had to do it all for us because we were completely dependent on him. Now, as we live our lives as God’s children, we still rely on him for everything. After all, our hearts and minds and actions are a weird mix of both holy and hot mess until we get to live in the new heaven and new earth forever. This is why we have to remember every day to “trust in the Lord with all [our] hearts and lean not on [our] own understanding; in all [our] ways submit to him, and he will make [our] paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5,6).
It’s easy to grasp the concept of being dependent on God when life is bleak, but when life is going well, it’s easy to think we are the ones who earned it. That leads to arrogance, which Satan can also use to separate us from being dependent on God. So each day we acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from him and look for those gifts. At our jobs, we recognize that the skills to do our tasks and the paychecks that come from that work are blessings from him. We see our homes and cars as ways he provides and shelters our families. We see what others may chalk up to “coincidences” as ways God delights in bringing us joy.
*Obvious Caveat Alert* There are plenty of Bible passages that talk about the value of independence, work, and carrying our own load. This isn’t about being dependent on people to the point of laziness or taking advantage of them. This is about putting aside pride and fears and admitting we can’t do everything by ourselves.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who loves depending on people when it comes to carrying in the groceries.