An angry inmate told me one day that he and God “Had an agreement” regarding his mistrust in God, and God’s people – the church. We talked at length about his anger and lack of trust in God, how God doesn’t make ‘agreements’ but is patient, and how the inmates independence has kept him from trusting God or man but rather kept him isolated. He had learned to trust in his independent spirit to protect him. I recognize that as something I’ve done over the years.
We all learn protective ways to live. We adopt them because they work. However, they are most often rooted in a lie. For example, if you fight, no one will get anything over on you. This leads to a life of fighting (physically or emotionally). There is a nugget of truth to these lies so we believe them as though they are THE truth. However, these protective mechanisms are often contrary to God’s way. Such is the case with my independent spirit.
Going through a very difficult time I now recognize how much like this inmate I am. I’ve used my knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:1 – puffs up) to get me through. But the most convicting is a study in Psalm 53 which is a re-write of Psalm 14. I figured if God has it in there twice I should pay attention.
I’ve never read this Psalm and thought it meant me because I would never say in my heart that there is no God. But ‘in my heart’ really means my thoughts and my will. So when I use excuse after excuse to ‘do it on my own’ and not lean on the strength of God and those He’s placed in my life then I’m really saying by my actions that there is no God. Or at least not one who can help me in the way He’s proposing. So many times I want to run the other way rather than the way God wants me to run as if I’ve said to Him, “Are you kidding? Do You know what you’re asking me to do?” My ‘heart’ has a mind of it’s own and seems to want to tell God a thing or two. Perhaps I’ve often said, “There is no God” or rather “God is not…” by meaning that God certainly can’t expect me to do such and such. By removing Him I risk losing the great outcomes that my finite wisdom mind cannot see in the cloud of trouble.
Psalm 14 says, “…and do not call upon the Lord. There they are in great fear, for God is with the generation of the righteous.” Psalm 53 says, “…and do not call upon the Lord. There they are in great fear, where no fear was.”
When my heart gets unsettled and I acknowledge God, yet I don’t really fall to my knees anticipating Him to intervene, fear sinks in. But where God is, there is no fear. Fear is a clue that I’m in the wrong place. I need to repent, ask for his forgiveness for digging into my bag of knowledge with an independent spirit rather than pressing into Him. I need to dig deep into His word, call upon the Lord (a personal word for God), and finally, allow myself to need and lean on those He’s placed in my path. An independent spirit is not of God. I can do nothing apart from Him.