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Declaration of (In)Dependence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.
Most of us know the first few lines of the Declaration of Independence that celebrate our “unalienable rights.” The lesser-known lines that follow, that call for the alteration or even abolishment of one unjust government to allow for the formation of an effective government, are a radical declaration of independence. The writers of the declaration go on to say that “Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.” They recognized that the overthrow of a government to allow for the establishment of another is a serious step with significant consequences. History proves this point time and again, where the overthrow of a government has caused anarchy rather than achieving peace. Our declaration of independence from England was an extreme choice, paid for with the blood of our people. Centuries later we live the benefits of their sacrifice and carry the responsibility of stewarding the freedom for which our founding fathers and mothers fought and died. As we celebrate our Independence Day, we remember the courage of those who made that radical declaration of independence over 200 years ago.

Independence… isn’t that the goal? Today, the 4th of July, we celebrate the achievement of that goal. But truth be told, we are always fighting hard to achieve and to maintain our independence. The battle begins when we are barely 2 years old. Imagine a little one fiercely declaring: “I do it myself,” with a stomp of her foot and a determined look on her face. Granted, there isn’t much that 2-year-olds can do, but they are a rather determined bunch when they get going. That independent streak manifests itself throughout childhood, from preteens that streak their hair pink, to the clothing styles of our teens that will leave them cringing at pictures of themselves years from now. The coveted 16th birthday comes with the hope of a driver’s license and the independence of the open road. Parents both fear that day and yearn for it as well. Oh, to be freed from the constant need to chauffeur our children from event to event! The 16th birthday holds the promise of youth and parent independence.  

The battle for independence continues… Think of our high school graduates, dreaming of their soon-to-be independence from home as they venture off to college and tech school, only to find their independence stifled when they return next summer to the confines of home life. Think of our college graduates, ready to step out in the real-world job in hand, surprised to find that ‘adulting’ is full of responsibilities and consequences that seem to stifle independence. And then there are those of us at the other end of life, who find ourselves fighting to hold onto our independence as age steals away our ability to navigate life. Over the years, our eyesight dims, our hearing diminishes, our strength wains. Each ‘senior moment’ leaves us wondering if our mental capacity will one day leave us dependent on others. We yearn to stay in our own homes for as long as we can, and we dread the possibility that our loved ones will take our car keys- ‘to keep us safe.’ While we appreciate their concern, we really do not want their protection. Independence is the goal for which fight… everyday of our lives…

Yet, our Christian faith calls us to a different approach to life- Radical Dependence on the One who is our life. Take time this week to consider your life through the lens of God’s Word:
I depend on God alone; I put my hope in Him.
He alone protects and saves me; He is my defender, and I shall never be defeated.
My salvation and honor depend on God; He is my strong protector; He is my shelter.
Trust in God at all time, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge. 
(Psalm 62:5-12)

Be bold and courageous… do not be afraid… for the Lord goes before you, and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6-8)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)  

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. (Psalm 23:1-3)  

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him; and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
When we declare that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we acknowledge that all that we have, and all that we are, is a gift of grace. Every breath, every beat of the heart, every glimpse of beauty, every touch of love is a gift. Our lives have purpose and direction because we are part of the Redeemer’s plan. The only true independence we know in this world comes when we embrace a life of radical dependence on the One who is our life.

With you leaning on the Everlasting Arms,
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