One week ago it was that a politically powerful and materially blessed nation celebrated its ‘Independence Day’. In one way it marks that decisive and providential break from the domination of colonial rule. Yet in another, more personal way it represents all that is wrong with humanity, ie. our insatiable and futile quest for independence. I know from experience that most of my early life I was seeking it, through the medium of travel and writing. For others it is through study, career, hobby, pleasure, family, success… in fact anything but God.
However, for the pharisee Saul it was ironically through religion; a strict, extremist Judaism (not so different from the strict, extremist Islamism of today). But it is not God’s plan to leave His children trapped in a mad, lifelong addiction to independence from Him, for when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me … (Gal 1:15-16), this futile striver for man-made independence was humbled, in one sense destroyed and re-made, to become utterly dependent on Christ.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to accept is the fact that even our best deeds, our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Is 64:6), 100% unacceptable and unworthy of God. We would freely admit that our weaknesses are this or that, but no one could or would want to admit that the ‘good’ things they have done are equally a problem and an impediment to knowing God, due to the pride and spirit of independence which they inculcate.
Even as a convert, a sheep of the Shepherd, called by grace and assured of salvation, there are peaks and troughs in this life of gracious dependence and faith. As Asaph confessed, but as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. (Ps 73:2) It is only when we return again to that which is counter-intuitive to our human nature that we can find peace and rest for our soul. May today be a ‘Dependence Day’ for you.