Needed or Desired?
After praying for Sam, our youngest, and an "I love you," I watched, tears streaming down my face, as he sauntered off to his first day of college. For those unaware, I have homeschooled all of our children, but there was something different about this experience than when we dropped off Ezekiel, our eldest. This time instead of consoling myself that there were three more young men at home in need of me, there was a horrible sense of loss. The assignment the Lord had given us seventeen years ago, when He told us if we would homeschool our boys, He would take care of them, was almost at an end. And the long-term mission that, at one time, I thought would never conclude suddenly loomed closer than I cared to admit. While I took a certain measure of pride in knowing Walter and I had faithfully obeyed the Lord, I must also confess that it was frightening, and I cried, telling the Lord, "No one needs me anymore."
As I poured out to the Lord my heartache, grieving the passage of what had been, the successes and the failures, along with my hopes and fears, His presence became more palpable and precious. I was encompassed in the arms of the Almighty, assuring me that all was well. He held me and then lovingly spoke to the root of the issue inside me. As the phrase, "You're no longer needed," reverberated through my mind, the Spirit of the Lord banished it when He whispered, "You may not be needed, but you are wanted." And what a privilege and joy – to be wanted. One can be needed and not wanted, but to be desired is everything!
It was recently announced that TikTok influencer Noah Brady took his life at the age of twenty-one. According to one source, this young man, who had 300,000 followers and five million likes and was a sought-after tattoo artist, for reasons we will never fully understand, chose to end it all. Having been in some ministry for over thirty years, I know the pressure to meet societal expectations, and it can be difficult even for one nearing fifty. However, I cannot imagine the pressure to remain relevant to so many at the tender age of twenty-one. In a world that seeks to encourage people to find purpose and meaning in their actions, it isn't easy to keep oneself from equating one's identity to meeting the needs of others. It plagues not only outward culture but the church, as well. However, that message is contrary to the gospel of Christ.
Jesus' primary purpose in coming was not to provide you with a purpose for living. That's a fringe benefit. He died and rose so that you would understand how greatly desired and wanted you are. Regardless of what you do for others or even for God, you are wanted, and that changes everything! When we move past the goal of making ourselves relevant and indispensable to others and the Lord and understand that the God of the Universe yearns for us, we realize that the purpose we seek is found in surrendering our selfish motives and inward cravings to the One who created us. Our sin is banished when our repentant hearts bow before His cross, and we are welcomed into a family that is not based on performance but on our relationship with the Father. We belong to Him, and our purpose of knowing and enjoying Him forever is enough. We need nothing, for all is found in Him. Through Him, we can face every transition, meet every challenge, and engage every battle knowing that we belong. The Lord Himself is our Bridge, our Champion, our Victory.
Perhaps you are experiencing some of the same emotions I had earlier this week – emptiness and sorrow, or maybe you have been in bondage to performance-based interactions with God and others. Dear friend, I implore you to let it end today. Pray with me:
"Thank you, Lord, that I am wanted! I am accepted in the beloved. My belonging to You is not contingent on what I can do for You or others or on any gift or talent You have graciously bestowed upon me, but on what You have already done for me. Help me, Holy Spirit, to take delight in the journey You have set before me. Renew my joy in simply being desired by You. I, others, and the world are relevant because You died and rose. Because You loved first, I can enjoy the benefits of Your love and I can learn to love others, expecting nothing. May my heart be Your home, a conduit through which Your desire for others is expressed. May Your selfless agape love be the foundation upon which I build and the example that I follow. When I am tempted to attach my self-worth to the needs of others, remind me, Lord, that herein is rest: that I am beloved by You! In Jesus' Name, amen."