Last week, the Philippines celebrated it’s 111th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Our country did not gain independence until 50 years later, when after the second world war, America decided they would no longer have us for a colony.

The dictionary defines independence as being free from the control or influence of others. It is a highly-valued commodity, so much so that parents are encouraged to teach their younger children to be independent.

But for some reason, when independence is practiced by the teen-age offspring, it’s now called rebellion.

Go figure.

But are we ever truly independent? Most of the time, I understand people who say they want to be independent to refer simply to financial independence. To not have to depend on others, specially parents, for their needs. Because as long as someone else provides for our needs, we are beholden to them. Have you heard of the other Golden Rule?

He who has the gold makes the rules.

But financial independence doesn’t mean we’ve cut off our strings, although I am aware that there are those who do burn their bridges once they see they can survive on their own.

I know I wanted to.

There is more to independence than to be financially secure. Remember, it means being free, not just from the control but also from the influence of others. And that, dear friend, is not so easy to get to.

Even if we have made up our minds and don’t consult others for decisions we need to make, we cannot deny that being with other people, seeing how they act and react in certain situations and to certain types of people, helps us in our decision-making. Just because we do not consult them does not mean they do not influence us.

So truth be told, we really aren’t very independent. But that’s not bad, because we weren’t designed to be independent, to not need others, and to not be needed by others.

We cannot survive in a vacuum. We were not meant to.

The closest we can ever come to an independent life is to be surrounded by people who, although they can influence us, will not force their will on us or manipulate us so that we choose what they want us to choose.

I’ve come to realize that maybe half the time, what is labeled as teen-age rebellion is not so much the teen going against their parents, as it is the parents panicking because they can no longer force their will on their kids. And the confusion is sometimes born from the parents’ leaving the young child to learn independence too early, and without their guidance.

I’m not judging anyone, least of all my own parents, but merely stating a personal observation, because this was what happened to me.

We were created to be in community. The first man was truly independent, and yet God said: “It is not good for man to be alone.” And so he made woman.

If we break down the fall of man, we can say that the devil ‘s battle cry was independence. “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” implies very simply “you won’t need God anymore to tell you what is good or evil. You can decide for yourself.”

And since then we have. “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes” is probably the scariest but most accurate description of society. In spite of the laws of the land, we all are able to find ways so that we can do what WE want to do.

No. Full independence is not something we can achieve without a price. we can be politically and financially independent, but never relationally, socially. The very meaning of the words require interaction between at least two people.

And honestly, I’m grateful for that.

I’m basically a loner. I don’t need to be around people to feel fulfilled, or even happy. I’m one of those who can spend a whole day at the mall by myself. I’m not afraid of solitude.

But that doesn’t make me relationally independent. Truth is, I enjoy those moments “alone” because I’m actually having a quiet date with Jesus, my Savior, who has sent his Holy Spirit to be with me , and in me. I won’t even say I’m praying, at least not in the usual sense of the word.

Most of the time, I’m just happy to be quiet.

But it is in those quiet moments that I am somehow able to communicate what I have learned to not confide in other people: problems, complaints, criticisms, frustrations, exasperations. It is easy to sing and talk about the good things with other people,
but only a very rare few can bear to hear out a string of complaints and not be personally affected.

I think they’re called psychiatrists or psychologists or therapists or counselors.

But there’s one who won’t charge an arm and a leg by the hour for listening. And who won’t interrupt you because the next complainer — client has arrived (and they pay their bills on time, in cash!). The psalmist sang: “evening and morning and noon I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17NASB)

He more than listens and advises. He deals with the problem: sin. That’s what Jesus did on the cross.

Technical theological term: Salvation.

And in doing so, he now gives us the strength to be able to follow through with what he has begun. That’s what the Holy Spirit does in our lives now.

Technical theological term: Sanctification.

He deals with the problem, he provides the solution, but he will never force us to accept it against our will. We have chosen to be independent of him. As much as it breaks his heart, he will respect that.

But from experience, I’ve learned that he will make it hard to resist his love. Because as our Maker, he knows the one thing we cannot survive without: Himself.

And as I give in to the need to depend on him to hear me, listen to me, and save me, I find that I am able to stand stronger, walk longer, climb higher.

With God, independence has turned into in deep end? Dance! Because I know he won’t ever let me fall.

They say GOSPEL means GOOD NEWS. Political independence after centuries of tyranny and colonization is good news. But this is the best good news of all:

Be ye glad! Every debt that you ever had has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord! Be ye glad!

Be ye glad!



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