In the later part of the 16th century Spain was an international superpower, controlling vast swathes of North and South America. In addition to these holdings, they had made gains in continental Europe, including control over the modern-day Netherlands. In the 1570’s the Dutch decided to revolt, declaring William of Orange as their King. The Dutch had never been a war-like people, and lacked military experience, infrastructure, and soldiers. Their opponents were the most militarily experienced and advanced of the period. The only advantage the Dutch had was that the majority of their land lay below sea-level, and was regulated by a series of dykes. By destroying the dykes they could flood the land, making things difficult for the Spanish. Flooding their own land obviously created problems (i.e. it destroyed their farms), but it did successfully slow the Spanish. The result was a stalemate. The prolonged war, coupled with the expense of running a global empire, was bankrupting the Spanish. Likewise, the destruction of farmland and industry was bankrupting the Dutch. Soon, it became clear the outcome of the war would not be decided on the battlefield, but rather by which side would run out of money first.
The Spanish King went to his nobles and businessmen and asked for loans. Having no faith that the all-powerful king would pay them back, they either charged huge interest rates or refused to loan him money. Soon, Spain literally went bankrupt, and the King was forced to cease military operations. The King of the Netherlands was different then his Spanish counterpart. He had chosen to cede part of his power to a legislative body of nobles, the Staten Generaal. When he ran out of money he too asked his nobles and businessmen for loans. Because he had given them a voice in government they knew they would actually get paid back, so they loaned at exceptionally low interest rates. The government of the Netherlands thus kept on trucking, outlasting the Spanish and gaining independence.
Each king had to make a choice: were they willing to cede power to others. We are faced with that same choice in our lives. Are we willing to cede the making of decisions and choices to God, or do we stubbornly insist being the totalitarian ruler of our own life? When we make decisions do we seek out God’s council in prayer and scripture, or do we only consult our own brains, or the advice of the world? A famous passage in Isaiah puts it this way: Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31.
This goes for more than just our daily decisions. The only way we can have eternal life is by admitting that God is God and we are not. As the King of the Netherlands realized, to fully succeed in life we must cede power to another, and in our case that other is our amazing, powerful, loving, and forgiving God.