Hey there y’all! Happy Fourth of July! Hope all y’all are having picnics, eating burgers and dogs and good BBQ, maybe doing some boating. Hopefully you’re with folks you love to be with! I’m so thankful to be in a country where we are free to celebrate and to worship in freedom!Today I’m by myself. All of my family is in a different state today, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois. I’m in Ohio. I’m a little lonely. The good news is I’m never alone. That’s not just a feel-good cliché, but a heartfelt reality in my life. Jesus never leaves me. I don’t know how people make it who don’t have that relationship!
There are lots of ways to feel alone, though. Not just when family or friends are physically absent, either by location or by death. In today’s society, surrounded by a culture which has removed God from every area – how we treat each other, how we act responsibly, how we relate to the Creator – many feel lonely. Those around us may be so bent on disagreement that they can’t even see our position, or feel that we ‘hate’ because we have a different standard of behavior. It can be discouraging.
“Cramming it down our throats” has become the battle cry of a culture which doesn’t want to hear truth. No matter how gently we speak it, or no matter how much responsibility we have as parents to teach our children, we are accused of forcing something unwanted on them. I want to turn the tables and decry the ‘cramming down my throat’ of immorality, drunkenness, swearing, hatred and violence that I experience every day in the media and the behaviors of many of those in my city. ‘Music’ is merely a string of profanity and sexual comments, movies are full of sexual misconduct and violence. Our culture makes sexual union common recreation- not a beautiful and sacred thing to be shared by committed married couples. Pleasure is not the end-all be-all of life. Gun and other violence stems from hearts full of hurt, anger, hatred, selfishness, greed and revenge.
There is a vast difference between being a frail human being who cannot possibly do it all right all the time, and someone who is a hypocrite. A hypocrite wants to be seen as something they are not, living a double life. A person who fails to live up to their own standards is not a hypocrite. The proof is in the reaction to the fall. If the person who fails stops and turns around to continue doing the right things, they are not a hypocrite.
What does one do when their mate leaves them and the kids for a life of partying? What do kids do when their parents can’t stay committed because one or both of them refuses to do the right things on a consistent basis? What do parents do when their children abandon everything they were raised with and call it ‘freedom’? What do we as Christians do when every standard God gave us is seen as a hateful, outdated rule without purpose?
First, we continue to walk in holiness. We continue to do the right things, even if society disagrees with us. We continue to pray for those who don’t or won’t see the truth. We continue to walk in the freedom we have as Christians – freedom from fear of the consequences of sin; freedom from murdering the innocent child who didn’t ask to be conceived, but now is a living being; freedom from hate by loving those who are walking in rebellion and deception- not only in serving them without enabling them, but also by telling them the truth; freedom from false standards dictated by financial concern or greed or pleasure-seeking. An acquaintance of mine wrote a great song about how we can keep going, called I’ll Keep Fighting. You can hear it here.
On this Independence Day, I’ve chosen to be independent from self-determination, from selfishness, from hatred and from hopelessness. I have chosen instead, to be dependent on God for His standards, His wisdom, His love, His goodness, His faithfulness. Even when I’ve failed the most miserably, He’s been there waiting for me to return. Waiting in love, not anger and hate; waiting to serve by forgiveness and restoration. Waiting to bless me with new hope, new joy, new strength.
What about you? Are you dependent on something to make you feel better, but it’s not working? Are you dependent on your own limited wisdom to figure it all out? Do you feel overwhelmed and in desperate need of love and understanding and strength? Take it to Jesus. He’s there waiting. If you need help with that connection, find a pastor or priest. They will be more than happy to help you rediscover your healthy independence!