By Anthony Casperson
So, here we are. The Fourth of July. To those outside of America, it’s not really anything other than the day between the third and fifth of July. But for those of us in America, this is the day where independence is in the forefront of our minds. We celebrate the concepts of freedom and autonomy.
Granted, this year has a few difficulties in feeling fully free. Many have been cloistered in their own homes for months, without much freedom to go where they want. And on top of that, events in the past few months have deeply reminded us that not everyone feels as free to be who they are in their own skin. Fear creating roadblocks to freedom.
However, many will still take the time today (and all of this weekend) to celebrate independence. (The fireworks set off every night over the past few weeks while I’m trying to get to sleep have assured me of this fact.) Some might even lean further into their independence because of the events of this year.
But, this time of the year actually reminds me more of dependence than independence. I stand reminded of how much my continued life is reliant on God.
We’re just a few days removed from the five-year anniversary of that panic-attack-filled night that I count as the event that ultimately led up to this whole blogging thing. And the near-inability to breathe, which makes a person wonder if this is the end of their life, truly brings dependence to the forefront of their mind. It makes that “We’re dependent on God for our very next breath” statement come to a whole new level.
But there’s another anniversary, from which we’re not far removed, where my dependence on God also revealed itself a breath away from the end. I don’t talk about it much because of fear of judgement. As a matter of fact, before today, I could probably count the number of people who knew on two hands. But I feel that, as I talk about dependence on God for our lives, I have to bring it up.
It’s the eight-year anniversary of my final attempt at suicide. (There are a few important words in that sentence. Don’t let one distract you from them all.) It might sound morbid to think about such a memory as an anniversary. But it’s less about the utterly stupid action I planned and nearly carried out, and more about how God miraculously moved through a benevolent, soundless voice to move the gun away from my head before it went off.
Many details have been left unsaid, because I don’t intend to glorify my cowardly actions. But let it be enough to say that I know every day since then has been a result of a miracle of God. The good days. The bad days. Even that panic-attack-filled day. They are all a result of being dependent on God for my very continued existence.
There’s not a single moment since for which I can claim independence from him. Every new day is another call to rely on him again. Even the most difficult ones, where the lies in my head seem to get the best of me. I can proclaim that my continued life is solely dependent on him.
But those moments of clarity, where I remember that I stand in dependence, are when I feel the most free. Freedom doesn’t come from independence, autonomy, and self-directed action. It comes when we choose to remove ourselves from the throne and bow before the sacrificed Lamb, the resurrected Lion of God.
A choice we must make to depend on him day after day. It’s not easy. And it’s not simple. But dependence never really is.
I wanted to try to find a verse or two so that we who stand in dependence could cling to the truth when bad days come and lies bounce around our heads. But every individual verse I came to felt too much like a pithy, “Oh, just hang on.” Something that would fall flat and be nothing more than an attempt at placating the pain.
It would take a whole lot more than a single verse or two, more than a couple of minutes of reading, to give us the expanse of truth about living in dependence. The vastness of this truth too great for a few paragraphs. It requires more than an easy answer.
So today, I’m not going to try to give any answer. Rather, I’m going to call us to remember something easily forgotten, even more so on this day we celebrate independence. Let’s not forget our dependence on God for every moment of our lives. Let’s claim today, and every day from now on, as a day of living in dependence.