Different generations seem to have different qualities they laud and applaud. In times past it was honesty, integrity, grit, strength…nowadays, it seems the best thing you could ever be is independent. The ability to care for oneself irrespective of the input of others is considered tantamount to achieving nirvana. According to our modern culture, when you can make it on your own with zero outside influence, that’s when you’ve really made it.
Interestingly enough, I don’t think humankind was ever made to be independent. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with being capable, skilled individuals, but when we idolize independence as the ultimate achievement, we miss the point that we have someone bigger than us to rely on…Someone who is greater than any circumstance that could tear down our independence. Someone who is there even when we look away from Him.
In truth, for the Christian there is something better, something that will bring an even greater feeling of freedom than achieving independence—and that is achieving total and complete dependence on God! That’s not to say we must live a life where every little thing is left to God’s care, including paying our bills, meeting the health and sustenance needs of our family, etc. But the difference between independence and absolute dependence is that independence relies wholly on the self to be the provider. In other words, when one’s strength fails, so does their entire lifestyle, because they have no one and nothing to fall back on. God-dependence, on the other hand, means that we are walking with Him in wisdom, relying on His strength to guide and lead our steps, and nurturing a relationship of reliance and faith in the good times. That way, when the bad hits, it will be easier to navigate because of the relationship and trust we have built with Him.
Sometimes, independence can start to look a lot like pride—a total I can do it MYSELF because I am all that I need kind of mentality. But everyone has their moments of weakness. Everyone has their times when they can’t do it alone. When those times come, it’s better to have trust and reliance on God than to have to navigate our weakness by ourselves.
There’s no reason to fear dependence on God. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging our brokenness and learning to rely totally on Him. This level of trust and love between the Heavenly Father and His children is often apparent in third world countries where Christians have next to nothing to go around. They rely on God for everything from providing meals to miraculous healing for ailments from which they have no defense or cure. And time and again through their testimonies, we see how God honors their reliance by delivering them from sickness, hunger, and death.
It can be difficult to have that much trust and reliance on someone. But God alone knows our deepest needs, our heart’s desires, and what will truly profit or harm us in the long run. Independence will eventually leave us isolated and weakened, even devastated when our own strength fails. But if we learn to dive fully in dependence on God, the burden of meeting our every need—as if we ever could!—lifts from our shoulders and into His hands. This is where our needs and wants are safest. All it takes is fostering trust in Him…and having the courage to dive into the “depend” with God.