What’s the most freeing thing you could possible do today?
That question could conjure up all sorts of associations in your mind. You might think of freedom from something: oppression, fear, anxiety, challenging relationships, or difficult circumstances. You might think of freedom to something: to do what you want, live as you want to live, go where you want to go. Since “freedom” is such a broad concept, I’ll narrow the question down even more:
What frees you to be who you’re meant to be – today?
The answer to that question might surprise you. It certainly flies in the face of most contemporary conversations about things like self-actualization or advice like “be true to yourself.” The single most freeing thing you can do today, or any day, is this: admit your dependence on God.
Dependence. Not a word we often associate with achieving our potential! But if God is who God proclaims himself to be, and if we are who he says we are, then dependence is a necessary concept. Listen to how the Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck described this idea over a century ago:
What makes human beings religious beings and drives them toward religion is the realization that they are related to God in a way that specifically differs from all their other relationships. This relationship is so deep and tender, so rich and many-dimensional, that it can only with difficulty be expressed in a single concept. But certainly the concept of dependence deserves primary consideration and is best qualified for this purpose.
Pause. Does this sound like bad news to you – or, at the very least, not a “freeing” bit of advice? Keep listening. As Bavinck goes on to say,
We are absolutely dependent in such a manner that the denial of this dependence never makes us free, while the acknowledgement of it never reduces us to the status of a slave. On the contrary: in the conscious and voluntary acceptance of this dependence, we human beings arrive at our greatest freedom. We become human to the degree that we are children of God. (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, p.267; emphasis added.)
Did you catch that? Denying your dependency never makes you free. Acknowledging your dependency never makes you a slave. On the contrary, dependence is what it means to be human – because at heart, we were made to be God’s children.
So how does this work today? It boils down to this. You were not made to function like a wind-up toy. You and I were made to live in conscious and constant dependence on God. But living dependently doesn’t mean we give up our responsibilities, our hopes and aspirations, our ambition, our goals, or our daily job. It means we see all those as areas where God calls us to admit our need for him – and by so doing, to find our true freedom.
The most freeing thing you can do today is to admit your need for God, even in the minutiae of your daily routine. Pray for help to finish those emails before clocking out. Ask for strength to clean up snotty noses and spilled cereal. Consciously lean into God through Jesus Christ in whatever lies before. Because this is what you were made for.
Photo by Kalyan Chakravarthy