Today is America's Independence Day, and I certainly stand by my thoughts last year this time: Boom Boom How...Can You Compare? This year, especially, as I'm set to partake this evening in a spectacular fireworks celebration over the lake in honor of a good man, and of course, America's freedom.
But I'm also thinking today about that freedom and independence and how I don't want either. I've had them; they don't work. Not by themselves.
Freedom, we say, is the ability to do whatever you want. It is the open option to pursue your heart, to follow your dreams, to live your life as you'd deem fit. Freedom is an open door; all you have to do is walk through it.
The problem with this freedom is that we walk through one open door and find another open door and then another and then another and then another until we're walking right into all of these things that seem open to us and we don't know where we're going or why or what's behind the door, necessarily, or what we'd hope to get out of it. We're doing what we can because we can and we're saying that's free, but is it really? Haven't so many of us become a slave to freedom?
I have, more than once. It seems that the more I want to redefine my life, the more I want to declare my freedom, the more I want to show that I am not bound by the obstacles or burdens or confines of life as I have known it, the more I find that I am doing things just because they seem to scream freedom, just because they are contrary, just because I can. After awhile, I realize it's been a long time since I've done anything I've truly wanted to do and wonder how long I've been chasing this freedom only to find that I am anything but free.
Independence is our idea that we don't have to check with anyone else. We don't have to ask permission. We can do what we want when we want and it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks about it.
The problem with independence is that we do what we want when we want and whatever we please as we so please until we look up one day and discover that we're doing everything alone. We're all by ourselves. We're disconnected and apart from everything because we thought we could and now, we're part of nothing and that doesn't satisfy the spirit.
It leaves us hollow, lonely. It leaves us abandoned, dejected. I've been there. I've been in that place where nobody can tell me what to do; I'm doing it anyway. Then I look around and discover that I took this journey and nobody came with me and the whole world moved on without me and now where am I? Lord only knows, but I don't like it here. I don't like being apart from things. There's no independence if you're working only for yourself. It's arrogance. It's pride. It's ego. It's selfishness.
On their surface, freedom and independence seem like wonderful things. But, at least for my heart, I'm longing for more.
And I find more in dependence. In leaning on the One who created me and who guides me, the One who loves me and redeems me. In acting upon His grace and His mercy, going at His call, following in His direction, living in His love.
You've heard it said there is freedom in Christ, and that is true. The freedom in Christ is not just an open door; in freedom, Christ opens doors. He spreads before you the life-giving, beautiful, good options before you and shows you what it is you can do, what it is you can be - without burden, without guilt, without conflict in your spirit about what it is. God gives you the freedom to go, and that truly is free.
In dependence, you are free to go as God sends you. You don't have to ask permission. You don't have to clear your plans. On your own, on the way your heart responds to the God who calls you, you go. Independently in dependence. When you go in dependence on God, you don't wind up alone. Ever. You're not by yourself, not left behind, not apart from things but a very big part of what God is doing here. It's not arrogance; it's servitude. Not pride, humility. Not ego, but the lack thereof. Not selfishness, but selflessness. It's something awesome.
As we celebrate today our freedom and independence, consider what those words really mean to your life. Are you a slave to freedom or do you hunger for freedom in Christ? Are you independent or living in dependence? Let me tell you, I've had the former and they were nothing but strife. The latter...that's life.