Giving up independence

What would it take for you to give up your independence? Would you willingly give it up, or acquiesce when it was taken from you?

I’ve been thinking about the line in John’s gospel where Jesus says to Peter, “‘I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” (John 21:18-19) While this may, indeed, have been prophetic for Peter, it can also be rather prophetic, minus the martyrdom, for many people as they age..

The Parkinson’s my Dad suffers from is slowly growing worse; he has lost his ability to move his legs in anything but a straight-forward direction. He needs professional care that my Mom cannot provide, not just due to her lack of training, but because at 85, she’s getting weaker herself. Yet they want to stay in their own house and live just like they have been for the 60+ years they’ve been married. They don’t want to prepare for what will happen next, they only want to take one day at a time and deal with it as it comes Since they live by themselves in a small, rural community, their options for assistance are very limited. Mom once told me, “It’s in God’s hands.”

My parents’ home and their independence are the last things they really have left that are “theirs.” I understand that things are much more comfortable in surroundings that one chooses oneself. But ultimately home is not this earth, but in heaven with God. The independence God gives us is a gift to choose Him, or not. It’s hard to go outside of our comfort zone and we all want the ability to say ‘no’. As we age, after all we’ve accomplished, it’s hard to let it all go and face the realities of diseases that bring constant pain and continually limit our abilities. Letting go of our independence might seem like we’re giving up. Maybe, though, we are giving up to the Lord. We are letting His glory shine through our weakness as we learn to rely on others.

Peter did suffer a martyr’s death and it might have been every bit as hard to accept as a slow progressing disease. Perhaps the daily challenges to our comfort zone and independence are opportunities for us to practice and prepare us to say ‘yes’ to God’s will in the future, no matter how our earthly lives complete.  

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