Happy Independence Day! We Ritzes are getting ready to do what many other Americans are anticipating today as well - spending time with friends, enjoying hamburgers and hot dogs from the grill, making homemade ice cream, playing games, relaxing and hopefully taking in some fireworks later this evening. This morning as I think about what this day means to our country, I am also pausing to think about the the idea of independence, and how truly illusive it is.
It seems that, as individuals, just as we declare our independence from one person, idea, season of life, pattern of behavior, or situation - another area of dependence is revealed. We cannot escape it. Our country has not been able to escape it either. Dependency is a lifelong lesson-learning opportunity. Figuring out what we are dependent on, deciding if it is a healthy dependency, and if the extent of the dependency is appropriate and then adjusting relationships and behaviors as needed to bring balance. We do this over and over and over again throughout our lifetime.
We seek this balance in each of our relationships, in our work life, in our financial planning, in our decision making, and in our spiritual life. When we become overly dependent or overly independent in any area, things start to breakdown and we begin to suffer and, as much as we don't want to admit it, those closest to us suffer as well.
I once heard this quote: "The only entity that can completely control your life without ultimately destroying it is God." He is the only One we can ultimately be wholly and completely dependent on without negative consequences. Jesus himself said in John 15:5 NIV, "I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from Me, you can do nothing." YOU CAN DO NOTHING apart from Him. If that isn't a call to acknowledging complete dependency on God and God alone, then I don't know what is. When anything else in our lives, other than God, demands this kind of dependency we get very uncomfortable very quickly, and if/when we become this dependent on anything other than God things fall apart just as quickly.
On this Independence Day, as we celebrate the blessings of life and freedom in the United States, let us also consider the reality of our own dependency on God and ask ourselves a few penetrating questions to see if we are experiencing the most life and freedom in Christ possible:
1. What one thing or person in my life do I feel like I truly cannot live without? Why? Do I really have any control over whether or not this thing/person remains in my life?
2. What good thing am I doing in my life right now that I would likely stop doing if I didn't have the support I currently have? How did I become dependent on this support in order to do the right thing?
3. Who am I allowing to depend on me inappropriately and how? Why have I allowed this? How can I stop this for that person's benefit?
4. How am I demonstrating the reality of my dependency on God on a daily basis? Can any one else in my life tell that I acknowledge this dependence? What is one change I can make today to release my dependency on people/things and embrace my dependency on God?
I took a wonderful hour and a half long walk today around my new home town. I soaked it all in - the sights and the sounds, even the smells (when I walked past the coffe shop, anyway). I was looking for the good... and I didn't have to look far to find it. I took this picture when I looked up underneath a big beautiful tree that was shading the sidewalk I was on and realized that it was loaded with apples. What a wonderful surprise! When you look for the good in life - you can usually find it. It isn't always obvious, sometimes you have to look up, or under, or behind, or through something else to find it, but you can be confident that it is there. On those occasions when the good is hard to find, it is helpful to remember that... that IT IS THERE regardless of whether we happen upon it or not.
I was reading through James again recently and I stopped in the first chapter in verse 13 which says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone." I looked up that word "evil" in the original Greek and was surprised to find that it means "what is worthless." God cannot be tempted by what is worthless. Hmmm. Of course he can't! He defines what is of worth, what is good.
I think back to childhood days when an older child in our neighborhood would get a kick out of offering a penny to a younger child in exchange for his dime... the youngster would greedily look at that penny, note its unique color and how it was so much bigger than the dime, and would inevitably agree to the trade, having no clue he had just given up something ten times as valuable as what he received.
How many times in life have I made a similar trade... not with money but by exchanging something much more valuable... time with my family or loved ones, the opportunity to share my faith with another person, time to pray or study the Word, time to serve others an dmeet their needs... I guess sometimes as humans, we fail to see the worth that God has instilled in these simple activiites... they don't look as "shiny" or "big" so we exchange them for something we think is better when all the while, we've been duped! Let's look for the good... it is WORTH it!
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!