Some of us fear being useless.
I’ve known many people who “need to feel needed”.
I guard myself against the motive as best I can, for I know it’s inappropriate to seek good works and ministries just to fill my own voids. For one thing, it’s not about us. We’re to do things for God’s glory, not our own fulfillment. For another, work is a harsh mistress. It lets you down, fails despite your best efforts, withholds the kudos you may well deserve. If you’re looking for your fulfillment in work, it will let you down.
But sometimes, my need shows through.
So I turn to God’s Word instead.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
And I’m reminded that God instilled us with a desire to contribute so that he could fulfill the desire. He has it all covered. We may have to surrender our need, our preference of work placement, and not grasp for it in our own way. But God will supply all our needs, if we look to him first.
I came across an article of John Piper’s recently in which he listed five besetting sins with which he struggles.
I chuckled bitterly. If only my list were that short.
Not that Piper claimed only five besetting sins, but I don’t even know how he could tier them. Mine certainly don’t lend themselves to such stratification.
They cling. They bite at my heels. They relentlessly pursue, like a dog who will not yield the chase, or the zombie who knows nothing but the taste of living blood.
The battle is intense. I am not rolling over. One could say that I am winning more skirmishes, making more progress, than I used to be. But something in my heart refuses such encouragement. Total eradication is the goal. If I content myself with anything less, I will inevitably accomplish something less.
And there are days in which I do indeed accomplish much less. Days that seem dominated, marked, headlined by sin.
Then, this evening during repentant prayer, I read these words of Jesus to his disciples:
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:15-17)
Last night in youth group, we discussed God’s adoption of his people – how adoption serves as a beautiful metaphor for how God, in his kindness and magnanimity, chose to save men who, because of sin, were not his own. He initiated the pursuit; he made the first move. There was nothing a believer could do to seek God first; he reached out with his offer of salvation, and we responded. Amazing.
But it occurred to me last night that God doesn’t just initiate; he finishes. He closes.