My toddler and I have daily disagreements about what he needs.
I say he needs healthy food, like the banana I sliced up on his highchair tray. He thinks he needs the cookie hidden at the top of the snack cabinet.
I say he needs a diaper change. He feels the need to scream at the top of his lungs, contort his body, writhe and wriggle to avoid being cleaned up.
After I win that battle and clean his little bottom, I say he needs a new diaper on. He runs away giggling because he thinks he needs to hang out in the nude.
I say he needs to come out of the bath when the water is cold and his fingers are wrinkling like prunes. He says he needs to stay in the bath. Period. Like, forever.
Momma says he needs to play with his books, his blocks, and his toy trucks. He thinks he needs to play with my smartphone.
I say he needs to color with the crayons on paper. He disagrees, believing he needs to color with the crayons on our books and then eat the crayon.
I tell him he needs to pet the cat gently or not at all. He thinks he needs to jump on the cat, pull the cat’s tail, sit on the cat and then stretch out with his whole body covering the cat and ignore the hissing and growling.
I know what he needs in order for him to be healthy, well-fed, well-rested, clean, and safe.
Yet, if I gave him what he thought that he needed, he’d be naked and starving, covered in his own feces, utterly exhausted and mauled to pieces by an irritated feline.
Perhaps part of growing up is learning what we really need.
Or perhaps we never truly learn.
After all, don’t I sometimes pray for what I need and discover through temporary disappointment and ultimate awe that God knew better? His “no,” though painful in the moment, becomes my salvation.
God loves us enough to give us what we really need rather than what we’ve mistakenly asked for.
Four men carried their paralyzed friend on a cot to see Jesus. They tried to shove through the mob that was packed into the house, but they failed.
So, they climbed onto the roof, hauled the stretcher up there, broke down the thatch, and lowered their friend into the middle of the room.
They pushed and pushed and pushed through every obstacle so their friend could have what he ‘needed.’
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5 ESV).
Is this what they wanted?
In his book, The One-Year Experiencing God’s Presence Devotional, Chris Tiegreen writes:
Clearly they came for one thing: healing. They wanted their friend to walk. He wanted to walk. A miracle was all they had on their minds. So a declaration of forgiveness, while a nice spiritual touch, might have been a letdown.
Is that how we feel when we come looking for the miracle, and He heals our heart instead?
So often we come to God with the practical need and the specific requests, telling Him our problems and sometimes even telling Him how to fix them.
His desire, though, isn’t just for our best; it’s for our spiritual best. It’s to break down every obstacle to His presence and cut through every barrier to intimacy with Him.
We ask to walk.
He grants forgiveness first.
That man stood up off that mat and walked out of the house with his friends. His physical need was met. But more importantly, Jesus answered his true spiritual need first.
And, what do any of us really need?
A better job? A healed marriage? An end to conflict? A bigger house? A good doctor’s report?
But more than that…..we need mercy. We need grace. We need His Presence. We need hope. We need forgiveness.
When we seek Him, truly seek Him, searching for His face, listening for His voice, longing to know Him and to talk with Him, He gives us what we really need.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33 ESV).
Lord, what I really need is You.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2015 Heather King