Wednesday, September 4, 2013

God Meets us in our Needs

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the LORD takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay O my God!
Psalm 40:17
     About twelve years ago I was sitting in the office of a man who was a pastor turned therapist. I had come to him struggling with depression and an eating disorder. After a rough week I came in and told him I was struggling with really strong self-contempt  and hated myself. He asked me what I hated about myself and I said the first thing that popped into my head, "I hate it that I am so needy." He whipped out his Bible and flipped it to Psalm 40:17 and had me read it out loud. Then he said, you know this was penned by King David, who was called by God, "The man His own heart." Then he posed the question to me, "If David had needs and God called him that, why is it not okay for you to have needs." I had a really hard time answering that question then.
     Since that time, I have pondered my needs, how I think we as believers view needs, and sometimes how the church responds to needs. Let me say up front that my church and several other churches in my community have done a lot to meet the special needs of people by forming ministries designed specifically to meet those needs. One church opened its doors to the deaf community and allow a small church of deaf people to meet there. I believe one hearing couple who loved deaf people helped to bring that about and they still serve there. My own church asked for volunteers to work with special needs kids. One of my friends whose daughter has severe problems because of cerebral palsy has benefited from the ministry of very loving people. These are just two examples. I think education has helped the church desire to meet the special needs of very precious people. It hasn't always been that way. I have heard horror stories of people who were told not to bring their special needs kids back to church. The problem was that they probably weren't equipped to handle the needs, but the way it was said left the parents feeling their children was not loved or wanted.  
     I was faced with some interesting dilemmas last year tat reminded me of neediness. Our church does outreach in a poverty stricken, drug entrenched, educationally starved area of town. I lead a ministry designed to help women find healing from past sexual abuse. A couple of those ladies asked to be in a group. We put them in and some of them did very well. Some of them really struggled, because their needs of food, shelter, and safety made it difficult for them to do the work we were doing. To be honest it complicated the group process and I had to let go of the goals and desires I had for these ladies and meet them right where they were at, while at the same time continuing to lead the group in the group process. It would have been easier to tell them they weren't ready, but I knew that God called me to love these ladies just like the others from more affluent backgrounds. We, as leaders, did try to recognize their more imminent needs, while giving them an exposure to the healing work of our groups. Some nights they needed to learn about boundaries. Some nights they needed to have physical needs provided. Some nights they needed to know how to handle domestic violence and a host of other things before they could look at the emotional impact of their past abuse. Ultimately, they needed most to begin to understand that God loves them, desires to heal them, and is fully capable of redeeming their stories. They needed to understand more about God's grace and His forgiveness to begin to understand how to give both grace and forgiveness to those who wounded them so deeply. Their healing journey may have looked different, but in all honesty it hit me that the deepest need of each woman in the group was the same, no matter what side of town they were from.
     About the time I entered counseling, there was a new term, "EGR," being used in the church in reference to people we find a bit more difficult to love or to relate to or who may require extra time and energy in our home Bible group. EGR stands for Extra Grace Required. In our home group, there was a young guy who said up front that he knew that he was the ERG for our group. I laughed along with everyone else. But, I was convicted in my spirit that night, that those of us using the EGR term were being prideful. I pushed the conviction to the back of my mind. I continued in counseling and over the course of a few years learned a lot about my own dysfunctions and at times was overwhelmed with shame because of them. Then one of my best friends died and I went to a community I had lived in as a young bride and mother. The man who was like a spiritual dad to my friend and I, sat by me at the visitation and I was so overwhelmed with shame of how needy I was during the time I had lived there. I was hungry for all of God's word and called numerous times to ask Bible questions. My husband was in school and I was having babies and had some post partum depression and severe loneliness and I called to talk about that. I personalized everything at the time so I talked to him for hours about relationships and how to get along with people. But at the core of that, neither he or I knew was that I was struggling with some unbelief. I believed the things that had hurt me at the very core of my being made me a second class citizen in the family of God. I knew I was saved. I knew God loved me because I was His creation. But my ability to relate and trust God was broken by things in my past. I was hating my needs because I knew that there was nothing that filled them. As much as I was loved at church, in my home, by my spouse...I felt so empty, so needy, and I hated that feeling.
     As I began to find healing for the things in my past, I began to realize, God had created me in love with needs that drive me to Him. I began recognize the lies I believe and to accept that I wasn't loved in a second class way. He died and took my sin in His wasn't just hammered to a was etched into His body as He hung between heaven and earth and in turn for my sin He imputed his righteousness to me. The suffering He bore was proof that He cares about sin and that He understands what it is like to live with the consequences of another's sin.
     It hit me recently that in God's eyes, we are all ERG'S! Just as children or adults with handicaps have special needs that can be best met by someone with training, we all have needs that only Christ can meet. The rub is that sometimes to learn how to let God meet the needs we have we have to have the freedom to wrestle with the needs in light of God's sovereignty with out being shamed for it. I am so thankful that my spiritual dad listened, answered questions, and reassured me over and over. I am so thankful that he didn't push me away and act like I was too needy even for God and the church. The last time he saw me he hugged me and held both my husband and I tight for the longest time. He grinned from ear to ear conveying that he was glad to see attempt to hide from us, just joy from seeing us.
     I have had the privilege of seeing and hearing the deaf pastor preach and seeing an interpreter sign the words of favorite songs. It is just so beautiful. My friend showed me pictures of her daughter being in the wedding of a very gorgeous couple. There was great joy, love, and acceptance of her daughter and her special needs that day...she was give honor by being in the wedding party. She was given the chance of experiencing what "normal" people experience. It was beautiful. I experienced Jesus in the core of soul because no matter how needy I was, a godly man showed me He in his words, actions, care, and patience what Jesus was like. Where there is great needs there is a great opportunity to experience love and to give love. Maybe, just maybe a good adjective for needs is "beautiful." Beautiful needs strips me of the pride of trying to meet needs apart from God. Beautiful needs that are not met fester and cause such pain inside that I went to all of the wrong places to have them met...but all I need to do is fall at the feet of Jesus in honest transparency. He is the one and only One who can heal my pain and meet my needs.Beautiful needs give me the opportunity to love as He loves--with patience, kindness, grace, and truth.  Beautiful needs give me the opportunity to be His hands and feet to a World desperately needy world. There is now no shame in needs for as I live I see my neediness gives me the understanding I need to quit looking at others as ERG's to be tolerated and see them as people with needs as beautiful as mine.  


  1. You are so right, Wendy! We really all are EGR people, and if we think we aren't, we're delusional. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  2. Thanks for you comment Lauren! You are a precious friend!



Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!