Hi, friends. It’s been a minute since I’ve sat down and thrown my thoughts up on the blog. I’ve been knee-deep in all things BOOK related. Since my last blog post, I finished writing my book, then it was edited, and edited again, then re-edited. While traveling the country, leading worship, and raising my 5 children, I turned in my manuscript to my publisher along with endorsements, a forward, an introduction, an epilogue, an appendix, and my completely designed cover. And then I slept for 2 straight days.
Throughout this writing process, God has taken me on a journey with my mental health. I know for sure that the timing of it all has not been coincidental. God is preparing me for what’s ahead, and He is kind enough to make sure my heart is in the correct posture, my mind is renewed, and my motives are in proper alignment. To put it bluntly, God is using therapy to kick my butt. And it’s feels wonderful.
During my first therapy session, my counselor asked me a very important question: “What would you say is the overarching theme of your life?” To which I fervently replied, “I want God to use me.” That seemed like a good answer to me. Until my counselor landed this sucker punch:
“What if I told you God doesn’t care about how useful you are? What if I told you God doesn’t need you?”
I stared blankly back at him and failed to find any clever words to offer in rebuttal. (A rarity for me.) These statements didn’t compute. Didn’t make sense.
I was raised to be used by God. From an early age, I knew there was a call of God on my life. So did my parents. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “I can’t wait to see how the Lord uses you.” I was steeped in ministry from childhood, and then married into ministry. And now we’re raising our kids in ministry. My entire life has been marked by how/if/when/where God has used me. This was the lens through which I found my purpose and my identity. This was all I knew.
And now, at the age of 39, I find myself sitting across from a counselor who has the audacity to tell me that God doesn’t care about how useful I am. And God doesn’t need me. A swift punch to my gut.
He led me to the story of Mary and Martha in the gospel of Luke. Which is ironic, considering I teach about Mary and Martha on a regular basis. Martha’s faithful service in the kitchen didn’t impress Jesus that day in the village of Bethany. He wanted her nearby. At His feet. Dwelling with Him like Mary. Mary was unbothered by the fact that there was work to do. She had been invited to linger with her Lord. To commune with Him. What greater treasure could she possibly obtain? I wonder if Mary recalled the miracle Jesus had performed just a few chapters earlier in Luke? If He could feed 5,000 people with a little boy’s lunch, surely He could handle whipping up dinner for a house-full of disciples. Mary’s striving was unnecessary. So was Martha’s. The Bread of Life was in the room, and He was more than capable of feeding those He loved.
Jesus didn’t come into Martha’s house that day so she could serve Him in the kitchen. Jesus came into Martha’s house that day so she could find pleasure in His presence.
And here’s what God has been teaching me in a fresh way:
Jesus didn’t save me so I could serve Him, do ministry, write books, travel the country or lead worship. Jesus saved me so I could enjoy the absolute bliss of His presence.
And this should be the overarching theme of my life.
But I know what you’re thinking. Because I thought the same thing. Am I not supposed to serve the Lord anymore? Do I not have to work for Him or minister to others? Am I off the hook? Nope. I still get to serve the Lord. I still get to work. I still get to minister. But a paradigm shift must occur. It is essential that I serve the Lord from my sense of purpose, not for my sense of purpose. I must come to Him empty, broken, and needy. Only then will He fill me with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. And because He is the God of exceedingly abundantly, my cup will run over and spill out on those around me in the form of worship, ministry, and service.
My usefulness means nothing to God. He doesn’t need me to do anything for Him. This is proven in the first 4 words of the Bible: “In the beginning, GOD…” (My name is missing from Genesis 1:1. Yours, too?) Jesus was there in the beginning, before time began. I wasn’t. He spoke the entire universe into existence with His word. I didn’t. He’s never needed my help to create anything. What a blessed relief. Paul confirms the centrality of Christ in Colossians 1:15-17.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
This is literally the best news you’ll read this week. God doesn’t need you. Because He’s God. And you’re not. He holds all things together. You don’t. He possesses all power, all riches, all resources, all creativity, all knowledge. He has literally never needed anybody or anything. He is all-sufficient. And you’re not.
This is your permission to exhale. Your striving can cease. Your anxiety can be alleviated. God doesn’t need you. But oh, how He loves you. Oh, how He desires you. Oh, how He longs to commune with you. Oh, how He longs to heal you, and fill you, and restore you. He can carry your burdens without breaking a sweat. Because He’s God, and you’re not. What a sweet comfort.
I’m still going to therapy every other week, and plan on doing so for the foreseeable future. I need to keep being reminded of the gift of my weakness and promise of His strength. I’m still traveling the country, leading worship, publishing my book, speaking at events, serving the Lord. None of that is changing. But my heart is changing. My mind is being renewed. My soul is being restored. I am ministering out of the overflow of my Divine purpose, which is to dwell with my Father. He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t care about my usefulness. He cares that I abide in Him, and He abides in me. When that happens, good works can’t help but spill over and bless those around me. And He uses me as I rest in Him. Jesus, let this be the theme of my life.