Am I the problem that stagnates my spiritual growth?
Am I the problem that stagnates my spiritual growth? That’s a hard question, but one we need to ask if we are to mature into Christ-likeness. We may have discovered that something is missing that keeps us stuck. But how do I change that?
I believe I can be independent.
The Bible teaches we can be complete, be fulfilled, possess well-being, and enjoy quality of life only through the person of Jesus Christ as we experience Him as relevant to all areas of our lives. There can be no true happiness or healthiness apart from a desperately dependent connection with Jesus. But with all our wisdom, we do not find the solutions for life’s struggles in Him. We believe we can be independent.
Stop a minute and consider what the word independent means to you. What are some words that come to your mind when you think of a person being independent? Do any of these words match your choices: strong, powerful, complete, confident, self-reliant, or alone? Webster’s dictionary definition for independent includes “not dependent, not subject to control by others, not affiliated with a larger controlling unit, not requiring or relying on something else, not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct, showing a desire for freedom.”
On the other hand, consider the word dependent. What are some words that come to your mind when you think of a person being dependent? Do you come up with mostly negative connotations, such as needy, weak, attached, addicted, or lacking? Webster’s dictionary definition for dependent includes “determined or conditioned by another, relying on another for support.” Especially in our American culture, it seems that dependence is discouraged in favor of independence. But we still pride ourselves on the concept that when we are in need we can depend on our fellow Americans to come to our assistance. As a result, we live in contradiction, striving for independence we can never actually attain.
Only God is truly independent.
God is the only one who is truly independent because independence is an attribute of deity. He does not rely on anyone or anything to complete Himself. He is not subject to control by others. Reality sets forth the fact that all that is depends on God. Nothing can exist apart from God. Furthermore, everything owes its existence to God.
For through him God created everythingColossians 1:16 NLT
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
But the God of Israel is no idol!Jeremiah 51:19 NLT
He is the Creator of everything that exists,
including his people, his own special possession.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
We were never intended to be independent.
Humanity was designed to be in a dependent relationship. We were never intended to be independent. God’s order is for His creation to depend on Him and His sufficiency in all areas of our lives. But we want to be independent.
My (Melanie) garden thrives on neglect. Some people may look at it and say it lives independently, but that is far from the truth. Even your garden needs God to plant, to water, and to give the increase. For your plants to claim independence is arrogant. They would be taking everything for granted. For example, seeds cannot germinate without soil, water, and sun, and plants even need bees and worms to do their jobs. But the bees and worms are also interdependent on the process. Without the plants, soil, water, and sun, the creatures could not survive.
Likewise, for a human to claim, “I can do it myself” is the same as a beautiful plant claiming, “I can do it myself.” How absurd.
He existed before anything else,Colossians 1:17 NLT
and he holds all creation together.
God designed all creation to be dependent on Him. Humanity was designed to depend on God, and without such dependence, death results. The essence of original sin was man’s asserting his willfulness to be independent from God even though God provided everything necessary.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.2 Peter 1:3 NLT
But I want to be independent.
The nature of our problem is that we work against God’s established order and desire our independence from Him. Ultimately we want to depend on ourselves while being independent from God. We have adopted Satan’s plan to be our own authority while seeking fulfillment in our physical life, quality of life, and even our eternal life. But still, we are left incomplete. Our own desires block us from completeness in Christ.
God’s design for life enables us on His terms. He requires brokenness, dependence, and obedience. Our eternal life begins at the point of salvation in a continuous relationship with God. As a result, our physical lives exist for God’s purposes. God gives us everything we need to experience an abundant quality of life. Are you willing to give up your willfulness for His purposes?
For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.Colossians 1:19–22 NLT
I want to do it my way! (Stomp your foot here!)
We desire God to empower life on our terms. From this perspective, all of life, including eternal life, is a pursuit of unending self-indulgence, unlimited pleasure, and unparalleled comfort. Our physical lives exist for our purposes; we believe we deserve everything we want. The perceived ultimate quality of life results from having the freedom to live life the way we think best.
Driven by the delusion that we can attain independence, we are convinced our fulfillment can only be addressed by our creative solutions. God may have a plan, but we don’t see Him at work in our lives, so we will attempt to achieve satisfaction independently. As a result, we attach expectations for God to bring about our plans by employing all His power to accomplish our desires. Deceived, we come to the notion that God is perfectly okay with what we want. For this reason, the delusion expands to accommodate the idea that our plans are equal to His will. From this perspective, God exists for our gratification.
I am the problem that stagnates my growth.
Our desire for independence clashes with the truth that only God is independent. Meanwhile, we wrestle with futility as we strive to convince God that our plan should be His plan. With dashed hopes and thwarted expectations, we grow resentful of God and stand in judgment of Him, doubting His love for us.
“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
‘How clumsy can you be?’”
This is what the LORD says—Isaiah 45:9, 11–12 NLT
the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children?
Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
I am the one who made the earth
and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens.
All the stars are at my command.”
To clarify, God responds that His will is not equal to our plans. But deafened by our delusions, we insist. Still pretending to be sanctioned by the Lord, we amplify the deception moving us to a deeper level of darkness. Consequently, the battle intensifies between His will and our way.
And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.Romans 1:21–22 NLT
People ruin their lives by their own foolishnessProverbs 19:3 NLT
and then are angry at the Lord.
Psalm 138 Prayer Pattern in Praise of Dependence
Psalm 138 provides a prayer pattern giving praise for dependence on our trustworthy God. Use Psalms Prayer Patterns to pour out your heart to God while acknowledging your weakness and His strength as you grow deeper in your relationship with Him.
- What keeps me from connecting to God?
- Am I willing to be dependent?
POST A COMMENT about your insights on your journey toward spiritual maturity! We would love to connect with you!
Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.
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