Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
Praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
From this time forth and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
The name of the LORD is to be praised.
The LORD is high above all nations;
His glory is above the heavens.
Who is like the LORD our God,
Who is enthroned on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in heaven and in the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
To make them sit with princes,
With the princes of His people.
He makes the barren woman abide in the house
As a joyful mother of children.
Praise the LORD!
Okay, I know the picture and this Scripture look funny next to each other. But recently, I've realized how guilty I am of saying one thing with my mouth, but living another...with good intentions, no doubt, but completely missing the picture. I try not to be selfish. I always want to put someone else's needs above my own. Each day, I strive to learn more about God simply because I desire to know Him and make Him known. It drives me crazy if something prevents me from being there for a college student who needs some counsel. When James and I go home to Tennessee, we do our best not to miss a Sunday because we feel a responsibility to be there for the students of 412 Ministries. A few days ago, I would have been pleased of this fact. But yesterday, I got a reality check from my Texas dad/boss/Systematic Theology professor:
"God doesn't need you."
What? God doesn't need me? Are you kidding? Then what am I doing here? I mean, I know that God is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omnipresent (ever present), but...oh my...God doesn't need me!"
Why do I trick myself into thinking I am the center of the universe? If someone in our ministry has a problem, can God fix it without me? Yes. If someone I work with is lost and doesn't know Christ, can God draw them to Himself without my help? Yes. Am I really so prideful to think that God needs me to do His work? Unfortunately...yes. Sometimes, I think I fall captive to that lie. I sing to Him, "It's all about you, Jesus, and all this is for You. For your glory and your fame, it's not about me, as if you should do things my way. You alone are God, and I surrender to Your ways." At the same time, I am concerned because I left small group early. Do I really think that my input really makes that big of a difference on God's Word?
That doesn't mean that God doesn't desire a relationship with me or that I shouldn't strive to serve Him. God is involved in everything in this world. Acts 17:27-28 says, "That they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for in him, we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, for we are indeed His offspring." God cares for me as my Heavenly Father. I love the truth in this verse that God is not far from me. The part of me that is still a little girl sometimes just desires to crawl up in my Daddy's lap when I don't know what to do or I'm hurt. He cares about every detail of my life and your life.
But He is also above everything in this world. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." This doesn't mean that God doesn't understand our thoughts or our ways. It simply acknowledges the fact that He doesn't have to deal with our struggles. He is perfect, and we are not.
There must be a delicate balance between comprehending both of these truths for an accurate understanding of who God is. If we lean to heavily on the Isaiah text, we may fool ourselves into thinking that we don't have any responsibilities because God is supreme. (I wish there was a way to make a buzzer go off on my blog right now.) Yes, He is absolute, and He is sovereign. But we can't forget the last words from Jesus before He ascended into heaven: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). We are instructed to tell others and help them grow in their faith however we can.
The danger on relying on the Acts text alone leads us to putting ourselves on an equal level with God. God is holy and deserves our utmost respect. He loves you and will be there for you when you call on His name, but He is not your co-pilot or your homeboy. (Sorry if you have the bumper sticker or the t-shirt, but it's true.)
Isaiah 57:15 may sum it up best: "For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, 'I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'" God is above me and greater than me in every way. He knows that I am incapable of getting to His level. However, because He cares for me, He lowers himself to restore me for His glory.
God doesn't need me; He exceeds me.
God doesn't need me; He precedes me.
God doesn't need me; He will lead me.
God doesn't need me; He will succeed through me.
Special thanks to Dr. Thomas White for his spiritual guidance in this post's content.