On Independence Day last week I reread the Declaration of Independence and discovered a few noteworthy parallels to finding Refuge in God.
The 56 signers of the document believed it necessary to take the step of declaring a new direction to "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." They approached the signing as a deliberate and calculated response to injustice and tyranny. After listing the specific infractions they state, "In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." Years of history led to these developments. Undoubtedly, the colonists were not totally innocent of infractions themselves.
Stepping out required declarations in three areas I will call dependence, separation, and commitment. First, in declaring independence from a tyrannical earthly ruler, they were declaring dependence on a sovereign God they agreed to trust with their fate. Besides the implied nobility of serving a cause much bigger than any of their individual efforts could manage, two explicit references to God are included in the document. At the very beginning they write, "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." By distinguishing between the "laws of nature" and "of nature's God," they acknowledge both a natural and supernatural realm of existence. Both are important to recognize, and one is under the other. The God of nature rules as he wishes. In fact, God's rule must be recognized and respected in order for humans to demonstrate a respect for nature. The very last sentence states, "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Not only is divine providence mentioned, the entire Declaration exists "with firm reliance on" divine providence. This is significant because not only were the representatives of the first 13 states of the USA declaring their independence from an earthly Prince, but they were declaring their dependence on Almighty God.
Secondly, in declaring independence, they were declaring separation. The majority of the text of the document lists the ways they had been mistreated and how attempts to reconcile had failed. It was time to separate, disconnect, undo, take apart, and break off the ties to the old in order to build the vision they had for the new. Attention could not be given to building activities and alliances in the "new world" as long as nagging encumbrances remained from the "old world." Taking the step of forming a Constitution didn't occur for another decade, but it couldn't have happened without the Declaration.
Thirdly, in declaring independence, they declared their commitment. They clarified what was important to them and pledged their allegiance to it. There was no turning back. There was no "Plan B." They were "all in" with their whole lives, fortunes, and sacred honors.
As a disciple of Christ, it is imperative to declare independence in the three areas mentioned here. Declaring dependence on God and what Christ has accomplished for us, is the only way to freedom from the tyranny of sin and sin's deceitfulness. Trusting merely in your natural ability and trying to earn your way to heaven will only lead to further enslavement (see Ephesians 2:8-9). Declaring separation from the old way of thinking and believing is the only way to be free to form new beliefs and behave differently. In the Gospel of John, the words of Jesus are recorded, " Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:25). Not that God's desires are always antithetical to personal desires, but sometimes personal desires and preferences have to be deliberately set aside (died to, separated from) in order to fulfill God's master plan. Declaring commitment to a lifetime of surrender to the laws of God is the only way to continually reap a harvest of purpose and destiny. The principle of sowing and reaping cannot be escaped. Sow good and you reap good. Sow evil and you reap evil.
Ephesians 6:10-12 says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." I pray that you can declare your independence. Declaring independence in the spirit realm yields fruits of refuge in the natural realm as well. Depending on God to help you separate from old destructive patterns commits you to a new way of life.
Note: The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness. This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith) to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at http://bluerockbnb.com
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry