The knock on my door was loud and confident. I expected a UPS delivery from the sound of it. But, when I opened the door, there stood my six-year-old neighbor. “Guess what?” she exclaimed. “I can ride my bike all by myself!” “Good for you!” I replied with a smile, and she hopped on her bike and wobbled down my driveway, taking one hand off the handlebars just long enough to give me a “thumbs up.”
Later that day, an elderly friend called and just needed to vent. She was frustrated that she couldn’t do all the things she used to do, and had to depend on others to do the yard work. “I’m just mad!” she said. “I want to be able to do it myself!” My mom told me that by the time I was two, whenever she tried to dress me or wash my face, I would push her hand away and say, “I do it by self!”
What is it about us that makes us so proud of our independence? What is it that makes it so difficult for us to accept help from others? The more things we can do for ourselves, the happier we are. We like to appear strong, and capable, and in need of no assistance. Always ready to lend a hand, it galls us to have to ask for one.
And there is the irony of the Christian life. The very thing we think makes us weak is what actually makes us strong! Our culture teaches us that we can do it by ourselves – that we must do it by ourselves – if we are to be any kind of success at all. We are bound by outcomes. But the Spirit teaches us that true independence comes when we accept that there are things we can’t do for ourselves, and we allow God to do them for us. It is a very freeing thing to stop struggling so hard to be so self-sufficient; to stop batting God’s helping hand away, saying, “No! I’ll do it by self!” When we take God’s outstretched hand in ours, God’s strength flows through us, and we can accomplish so much more than we could by stubbornly striking out on our own. How very like God to turn things upside down, so that it is only in our weakness that his strength is released – that only in our surrender are we truly made free!
Enjoy the holiday, remembering the One in whom your true freedom is grounded!
Happy Independence Day!
Pastor Barb <><
We are always seduced out of grateful dependence on God and talked into self-sufficiency. John 8:36