Sunday, March 3, 2013

Needs and Wants

A wrote a little while ago about Adam and me finishing our first half marathon. Well, now I am training for another one in Nashville in April with my baby sis (and possibly my daddy-o). Adam has graciously agreed to keep running with me for training even though he is not running in this next race. So anyway, we were doing a long run together today in the freezing cold. When we do our longer runs on the weekends, I typically try to spend two consecutive miles in prayer. It is a good way for me to take my mind off of what I am forcing my body to do and also a pretty distraction-free environment, so it is easy for me to stay focused. While I was praying today, I found myself continually coming back to the truth that God is enough. He is enough for me. He is infinitely capable and unimaginably powerful. He holds my life in His hands. I kept asking God to always remind me that He is enough for me, that even when it feels like everything else is crumbling and absolutely nothing is going the way I want it to, He is still enough.

A few years ago I was doing a Bible study with some lovely ladies here in Birmingham, and one week the main focus was the idea of God being enough for us. I believe the study was one of Priscilla Shirer's (I highly recommend anything she puts out. Talk about a woman who can teach!). She posed the following question to the group:

If all God ever did for you was send His Son, Jesus, to earth to die for your sins so that you could spend eternity with Him, would that be enough? If He never did anything else for you, would that one thing be enough?

That is a tough question to answer. And as I was running today, I was asking God to let my answer always be "Yes." I want that to be my answer, not because I think God will never do anything else for me--on the contrary, He has done and will continue to do miraculous things in my life--but I want "Yes" to be my answer because it means I recognize my one true need. I am a sinful person. And for that reason, my one true need is a Savior.

A lot of times I think we confuse things we want with things we need. I know I do. I tend to think I need certain things in order to be happy or whole. God has used the last few years to teach me that a lot of what I thought I needed I really just wanted. To be clear right off the bat, I don't think it is bad to want things. I don't think that at all. God created us as we are, and He gave us hearts that long, hearts that desire. He, Himself, has desires. He desires to be gracious to us, to show us compassion and to have us love Him in return. So, no, desires (wants) are not bad.

I think the fallout comes when confuse our wants with our needs. I want a lot of things. I want my husband to always know how much I love him. I want us to go on a trip to Italy together. I want to be an exceptional teacher. Most obviously, I want children. And I think that is a God-given desire. Absolutely. But I need Jesus. Really, really need Him. I want Him, too. But I need Him. God has been using my life lately to make that truth abundantly clear to me. There have been things that have happened to me/us over the last two years that should have resulted in me spending long periods of time in a room with padded walls. And I know, beyond all doubt, that Jesus Christ has been right by side sustaining me, helping me, all out carrying me through.

Two years ago I would have told you that I needed children. And don't get me wrong, being a mother is still one of the strongest desires of my heart. There are days when I want it so badly that I am in actual, physical pain. Days when I think I might lose it and burst into heaving sobs at any given moment (you can imagine how awkward that would be for me at work in a room full of 14 year olds). I am not saying that I have had such an epiphany that I am over my desire to be a mother. Far from it. I long for it every single day. But I have realized that as much as I WANT to be a mother, I NEED God more. I need Jesus more. And that is a powerful realization. Because if God did decide that what was best for me and for His kingdom was for me to not be a mother, then He would still be enough. It would be so hard, unimaginably hard (and, oh, how I hope that is not what He decides), but I know that He could get me through it.

But here is part of the beauty. He is already getting me through it. Today. Right now. Last week during our sibling interview, I told our social worker that our life looked absolutely nothing like what we thought it would when we got married almost 6 years ago. We do not live where we thought we would live. Adam is not in the branch of physical therapy he originally thought he wanted to go into. We don't have kids. If you had told us on our wedding day that in 2013 we would be where we are now, I would have told you that you were crazy. And I will be honest, I am not thrilled that we are still waiting to be parents (I feel like that is clear now : ) ), but I am amazed by what God has done, what He is doing. God has shown me time and again that His power is most clearly displayed when we are weak. And let me tell you, I am one weak vessel. There are a whole lot of days when I tell God that I have nothing left, that from here on out it will have to be Him, because I am empty. And I think that, just maybe, that is a good thing. I think that might be right where He wants me. Because now, I have to trust Him wholeheartedly. And that is what He WANTS. I NEED Him, and He WANTS me to recognize that.

He wants all of us to recognize that. We need Him. I need Him. You need Him.

We can't do this life on our own.

And God knows that. He knows that we are weak. And so He sent His Son, Jesus, down here to us. To live with us, to experience human life with us. Most importantly, to die a sacrificial death in our place. Jesus died the death that you and I deserve so that we could be able to spend an eternity with God instead of without Him. All we have to do is believe. Trust that what He did was enough. We cannot do enough good in this world to earn God's favor. We need the perfect sacrifice of Christ. And when we turn from our sin and trust in His sacrifice, we are washed clean. And now, when God looks at me, He sees Jesus. He doesn't see my sin; He sees His daughter whom He loves. And I did nothing to deserve that. He did it all.

And that is enough.

His power is made evident through our weakness. If we could save ourselves, we would not require God's grace. But we cannot do it. And He has done it for us. He has met our one true need.

And it is enough.

Even if nothing else in this life goes the way we want it to, His mercy, grace and sacrifice are enough.

"Then He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:9


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