This question was posed to me many years ago by a speaker in a discipleship training school and I’ve never forgotten it. It struck a nerve with me because I immediately recognized my tendency to rely less on God when my circumstances are more comfortable. When hardships harass I’m digging in like a clam at low tide. When life is a bowl of cherries, I seem to get a mild case of amnesia and slip off into the dangerous waters of autonomy.
When our stuff tips the scales on our self-sufficiency it’s a no brainer–we seek His face, pour over His word and push our knees into the carpet inquiring of Him for the help we need. When pain eclipses our peace and pressures kick our hope to the curb, we don’t need a reminder of our constant and irrevocable need for our Savior.
We press into God most when trials and hardships press into us.
We cry out Lord God, I cannot do this without you! But after we’ve made it through the rough patch, when life inadvertently settles down and we find ourselves in a season of easy travel, why do we invariably let down our guard and lessen our pursuit of the One for whom without we can do nothing?
On Easy Street I’m much too prone to slip into the driver’s seat. I take my prayer from the carpet to the car on my way to the next thing? Before I know it I’m off and running a marathon of independent living not realizing that I am becoming thirsty and weak and more susceptible to the one that came to steal, kill and destroy.
Lack of need can turn our clinging to Jesus into a base jumping lifestyle–hopefully we come to our senses before we slam into a rock face.
For me the first sign of independent living is the dissipation of my peace. It’s a subtle decline that is usually revealed when I have a knee jerk reaction to fear. Hmmm, where did that come from? I ask.
The dryness becomes noticeable—the anemia obvious and my apathy contagious.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who goes here?
Why do I need to hit the wall of my limitations and of my humanity before I adjust my course? I don’t want critical need to fuel urgency in my fierce pursuit of God. When my self-sufficiency, once again, leaves me soul parched and bloody I totter back onto the path of utter dependence upon Him.
If I’m completely transparent with you I’ll admit that many times throughout my walk with Jesus my spiritual discipline and dedication were born and fed more out of my need than from a place of love. I need to be in right standing with God.
In the early years the white noise of my spiritual canvas was glossed with compliance and performance. It looked something like this: A good Christian reads her bible every day. A good Christian keeps a fat prayer journal. A good Christian goes to church each time the doors open. A good Christian serves. A good Christian ____________________(fill in the blank).
Being raised in a wounding home inhibited my ability to see God as a loving father, it interfered with my freedom to fully trust His love for me. I could easily parrot the words and believe them to be true and infallible but I couldn’t grasp His love paired with my unlovability. I believed God loved me out of duty, but did He enjoy me? Hmmm…best to stay out of His way then and by all means, keep those i’s dotted and those t’s crossed.
I don’t have the complete answer to the question of how to maintain a critical need of God when our needs aren’t critical but I’ve got a start, I think.
When we’re in love–really truly in love–we can’t help ourselves from pursuing the object of your affection. Our desire drives our expressions and conduct rather than the “requirements” of the relationship. Until we are consumed with love for God, our practices risk being driven primarily by circumstantial need.
In that case is God merely reduced to an App we utilize for compliance, convenience and comfort?
Revelations 2 describes a church that was exemplary in their performance and epic in their achievements. But Jesus said of them, which applies to all of us as well:
As a wife, I would be so disheartened by my husband’s acts of love, service and commitment if they were simply offered out of rote duty and compliance. My friends might be impressed with the flowers, gifts and date nights–but if love didn’t initiate them they would be painfully empty gestures.
Can I suggest that love is the crucial ingredient in maintaining a critical need for God?
Hardship, brokenness, poverty, illness, rejection, lack or loss–these are temporary and transient, Love is not.