independence is a good thing- right?

Ah, independence. No matter where we live, or who we are, or what language we speak, there’s an independent streak down inside us all. Just watch any 18 month old (or younger) child, and you’ll see it on full display. Uh, until they venture a little too far for their own good, then they cry out for Mom or Dad. As we grow and mature, each of us acknowledges and even wrestles with this pull inside to be in charge of our own life, and call all the shots. Interestingly, teachers, parents, bosses, society and culture applaud this development process. The nice, socially acceptable words we use as compliments for this demonstration is “independent”, “self-sufficient” and other rich, life quality sounding terms like that. They even show up in job descriptions and resumes, and are seen to positive attributes.

Here’s the problem- independence is the exact opposite of what God wants. The exact opposite. God teaches us to learn to be responsible for ourselves and accountable to others, yes. And that maturity process is something entirely different than the most important process of learning where our Source of strength for this life lies. God created us to be dependent on Him, for everything. It angers God when we choose our own strength over the sufficiency of His, because we betray the plan He created. We have to pull away from God when we choose to go it on our own- there’s no escaping that truth. Check out this warning God give us in Isaiah 50:10-11 (NLT).

“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.”

Ouch. I’ve felt the great torment a few times in my own life when I was going to run the show on this one. When I have chosen to live in my own light and warm myself by my own fire, it may have taken some time, but eventually I fell down, and it hurt big time.

The good news is God waits for us to turn to Him, just like that 18 month old at the front of this post who realizes he’s ventured out of his league on this one. When we turn to God for His help and admit we need Him, and at that point He runs to where we are and lifts us up in His strength. Paul, a follower of Jesus, writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT), that God tells him, “’My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

We can’t have it both ways. It’s either our way in our limited strength, or it’s God’s way with limitless strength. So, the question is, which Trinity for this next big decision? Will it be Me, Myself, and I, or will it be Father, Son, and Spirit?

Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.

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