A four letter word…

      Need…that’s right.  I said it.  Need is a word we do not like to say.  I mean need in the true sense.  “I need to go to the grocery store,” or “I need a pedicure.”  This is not the use of the word I am referring.  I am referring to the necessity of a condition in a time of difficulty where you lack something to grow, survive and thrive.  Poverty of situation…whether physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. 

           If you are reading this, you may have never been in need of food–real need.  You may have always had a can or 10 of something you could eat for survival in your pantry.  However, all of us are in real need of something beyond ourselves.  In a cultrue that raises us to be independant and take care of our own needs–be a good American, we are taught to scoff at being in need. 

          This morning, I meditated on one of my favorite Psalms–Psalm 25.  I began to make a list of what our response was to be to God and what His character and response is to us–from the text.  Here is ours:

  • Take refuge in Him
  • Hope in Him
  • Wait on Him
  • Fear Him
  • lift our soul toward Him
  • Put my trust in Him
  • Think on His truth
  • Pray for help
  • Keep our eyes toward Him
  • Fear Him
  • Abide in Him
  • Be honest about all of us in humble need before Him

His Action and character in Psalm 25

  • Sovereign LORD
  • Protects us from shame and enemies
  • Trustworthy, worth waiting on
  • His ways, path and truth are life-giving
  • God of my salvation
  • Leader
  • Teacher
  • Shepherd
  • He remembers
  • Mercy
  • Steadfast Love
  • Eternal (of old)
  • Goodness
  • Upright
  • Instructs sinners in His way
  • Has a Way (unlike any other)
  • Leads and teaches the humble
  • Faithful
  • Has a covenant and testimonies
  • instructs us in choices
  • Giver of inheritance/reward
  • befriends those who fear Him
  • Rescuer
  • Gracious to the lonely and afflicted
  • forgives sins
  • Considers us and our circumstances
  • Our Refuge
  • Our Redeemer

        A recap?  Um, we NEED Him.  He is ALL that we need.  HE IS.  Even in the garden before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve needed God.  He was their creator, sustainer, life organizer, companion, object of their affection, provider.  When Jesus spent his 33 or so years on this earth, He showed us the pattern of need He had with time with the Father.  Read John.  Wow, does Jesus talk about abiding in the Father, needing Him, relying on Him, listening to Him.  He pulled away to spend time with Him sharing His heart, getting directives, fellowshipping.  So, why do we treat need as a four letter word?  It is clear in His word that we are to abide and rely and come to Him in need everyday, every moment, all our lives.  We are to be as children before Him. 

         Reflecting on this before Him this morning, I realize our culture and our flesh war against this.  Needy and weak and dependent are character flaws to us.  We are coached to find ways to provide for ourselves (I am not speaking against being a viable citizen and providing for our families).  I think we take this “provision” to all areas of our lives in thought of our needs.  Independence in praised in all forms.  So, how does that bump up against what God’s word says?

         The very ways we are being responsible to provide we begin to trust in instead of God–the life-giver, the giver of our gifts.  We can easily make idols out of our providers of need.  A few years ago, I quit a job and we had a really nice savings built up.  I felt safe and secure in going into a season of exploration in ministry.  Then, I had back issues and needed a car that would sit differently (doctor encouraged this “need”).  We had a few more bumps along the way, and voila–our savings disappeared.  I was a basketcase.  I realized that I had been trusting in the savings account instead of the Father who is our provider. 

          When in need, we are always looking for a solution–a provider.  Most of the time, we make idols out of those things around us that we feel comforted in.  Job, hobby, marriage, children, escape through entertainment, drink, food, technology, shopping, beauty.  With any of these we are feeding a need in us that we think we have control of filling or numbing.

          Our job?  To need Him and go to Him in our need.  Why does this seem so exhausting to us?  For one, we rebel against not being able to “meet” our need.  We want to be in control.  We feel dumb.  Also, it seems exhausting to go to His word and dig in.  Yes, it is work.  Most of the time it brings life, though.  The enemy wants us to run and find other providers.  There will be push back in your life to keep you from Him–pride, lies, laziness. 

          The crazy part is that it takes energy to need.  That is why it is easier at first to give in to idols.  At first, they do not seem to take effort or energy.  We just fall in to eating more, drinking more, buying more, spending more money to beautify ourselves to make us feel better.  We just fall in–then we begin serving our idols. 

          Like drug addicts, we structure our life around our idols–feeding it, needing it, serving it by giving our thoughts, money and resources to it.  For example, we spend whatever we have to to get comfort, ease, power, etc–whatever our fix of choice is.)   Like drug addicts, the way we fill our needs only creates an astronomical problem–usually quite evident to those around us–sometimes not.  We are affected poorly in every way, and we become blind to our problem.

        Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden adn I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”   He simplifies this whole need thing.  Come to Him.  Rely on Him.  Do things His way.  Know Him.  Yes, there are times I feel stupid for being in need again.  The truth is, I am His sheep and I need My Shepherd.  I will never grow out of need.  To be needy is the exact place the Shepherd wants us–depending, knowing Him, fellowshipping with Him.  We bring nothing to the table exc ept ourselves–our need.  Blessed are the poor in spirit (who know they have need), blessed are those who mourn (broken over their sin), blessed are the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…see a theme of need?

         In this time of infertility and loss and leading a ministry and being married and being a daughter, friend, sister, I am learning how much I need and how GOOD it is that I do.  I am always fighting my pride to be in control and look strong and show how independent I can be–and then I am reminded usually quite publically that I NEED HIM.   And, that is His good.  In that, He is making me more like Jesus. 

        The best gift I can give to those I lead is to be a broken dependent woman relying on the beautiful Shepherd King.  Then, I am working with His resources instead of mine.  His are life-giving and eternal–mine are the real four letter word…

An indictment on my self-absorbed life…

In the last few days, I have been convicted at every corner. My life, even in being “about” others is about me–my middle class world spinning round. It is so easy to “set up” life here in America to be insular, entertaining, comforting. Our worries may be major to us, but in the scheme of things, are minor to those without a pinch of bread to eat.
Three issues have been brought to the forefront of my mind–poverty/hunger, abortion, and the persecution of Christians in India and Iraq. These are issues in which I can choose to be uninformed. I choose to be uninformed by making the most important things in my life my needs and wants and comfort and the well-being of my family and friends in my community. This is easy to do. In fact, I have to literally choose to be informed about issues that take me out of my comfort zone. I simply swallow what is easiest to hear and to accept.
I get a Compassion magazine two or more times a year, and yesterday was the first time I have taken time to read it. Hmmm. Quickly I was reminded that the world is SO much bigger than me…that the need is overwhelming…that I will be held accountable to God for what I do with the abundance of resources He has given me. (yes, abundance, even when things are tight and I worry about finances–it is really relative in comparison to those I read about). I’m ashamed that I worry about fashion or my home’s look as I think about those surviving for another day.
With the election looming, I have also been thinking more about abortion. I have been reading up on some of the issues. It is easy to skirt over things and to not really ingest what the issues are. How often do I think about abortion? Not enough. In the last week, God has brought a sensitivity to me as I look around and see children around me–especially those with special needs. The conception of children is an amazing miracle–a work of God. The fact that some people are ill prepared to be parents and do a poor job of it is a reality. I worked in an inner-city school as a counselor for several years, and I heard so many stories and saw so much pain that I became numb. It is easy for people to become jaded and think in pragmatic terms about everything in life. Yet, again, we are still accountable to God for our actions, votes and consciences. Just because it would be “easier” to people’s lives or our society does not make something right. Our selfishness to shield ourselves from hardship and create ease is sick. I have been heartbroken reading what legislation is proposed for abortion. It is much easier to turn on the tv and be entertained than to think on these issues, but God has given me a mind, energy and resources to fight for those who do not have a voice–the orphans and widows–just as he has fought for me and brought me from life to death.
Through reading several blogs, I have also been reminded of the intense suffering, torture and death of those in relationship with Christ in India and Iraq (these are just two places–there are myriad places where brothers and sisters are suffering for the sake of the gospel). What a laugh that what I may think is horrible in my face everyday is NOTHING in comparison to what the body is experiencing elsewhere. I am reminded to pray for those brothers and sisters and get my mind and heart out of my self-absorbed existence. I pray to see the world in the big picture with God’s eyes, and I am reminded to cling to him heartily praying for those needs around the world. It is overwhelming to see, but just because I am overwhelmed and do not want to hurt from the pain, I cannot look away.
I encourage you to look up from your life…see the needs of those around you and beyond and be a light and prayer warrior. May we all be awakened from our self-absorbed slumbers.