A MESSAGE BY ALLI MUNSEY
This 4th of July weekend we celebrate the Declaration of Independence and those who fought for our freedom. But what does it mean to be independent?
This world defines freedom as not needing anyone and completely being self reliant. (Cue Destiny Child’s no.1 hit Independent Women). But this mindset goes against what God says freedom is.
In Genesis 2:18 we see that man was never created to do life separate from God or others. Even after the fall of man, God started to make provision through Jesus Christ to reconcile man to himself.
So, what does it really mean to be free? The essence of finding freedom is allowing God to consume every minute of life.
One of the reasons that the world believes in its definition of independence is because there is a tendency to lean on the reed instead of the rock. We put our hope in money, power, and people, which will all eventually let us down. But to really experience independence, we need to be fully dependent on God.
In Psalm 23, David tells us why we can be fully dependent on the Lord:
The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want.
Sheep are stubborn, easily startled, and cannot protect themselves. They need protection and guidance because they are easily led astray. Sometimes shepherds even have to gently break the legs of sheep who are prone to wander in order to allow them to heal close to the shepherd in the sheep hole. All of us are like sheep — constantly wandering, sometimes stubborn, prone to wander, in need of God’s guidance and protection. Sometimes God will also break things in our life to get us to draw near to him.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.
This world is often searching for peace, for “zen.” But we don't need to run looking for peace. When we seek Jesus, He leads us by still waters. When we find Jesus and give him everything, He gives us the peace that surpasses all understanding. He is our strength. He restores our souls and puts us back together.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.
In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon says, “There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” Life is all about ebbs and flows. Like sheep, we often get fearful during the dark times. This fear can paralyze us and cause us to stay in the dark valley. But we be confident that hard times are only for a season. God will change our circumstances in due time and propel us through the valley.
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
The shepherd’s rod usually had a point on one end and a fork on the other. The pointed end was used to gently push the sheep where the needed to go, and the forked end was placed over the neck of reptiles to protect the sheep. It is the same with the Word of God, which is used to push us forward in our walk and protect us from danger.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
The word for table is synonymous with feast or abundance. David experienced an over abundance of joy in the midst of his enemies. When you lean on Jesus, He anoints you with favor and grace. You will overflow with it even in the darkest seasons of your life.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
When you lean on God we can rest assured that we have angels following to the left and the right of us to protect as we walk through this life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
David knew that he had to get to the house because it is where God’s presence dwelt. It is the same for us. Nothing else matters but getting to God’s house to experience His presence. In His presence there is fullness of joy. In His presence is where miracles happen. All we have to do it get to His house.
Complete independence does not mean holding onto life tight-knuckled and trying to control every aspect yourself. Complete independence means trusting Jesus completely and knowing that God is with us.
Dear God, thank you for being our good shepherd and for guiding and protecting us as we walk through life. Help us to release our grip on life and allow you to have your way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.