When I was a kid, the neighborhood sport was kickball. I’m talking all the neighborhood kids getting together right in the street for a blow-out game. Whoever showed up got to play. Your skill level wasn’t very important (although the younger ones who were willing to run for the wildly kicked or thrown balls were greatly appreciated). As I got older and team sports were included in our Physical Education programs, I struggled to find my place among the pecking order of gym class. Not being a natural athlete, I was always one of those who got picked last. Though I dreamed of hitting the home run or blocking the opponent’s play, I never quite succeeded. I learned that every team has one star player, several really good ones and then the rest of us. I belonged to that legion of bench warmers who dutifully showed up at each game, try not to embarrass themselves too much and was grateful when the game was over. No matter how hard I would try, it was obvious that I was never really needed on the team and that is a lonely place to be.
I learned what it meant to be needed at home. One time I found a baby bird that had fallen from it’s nest. My mom told me that I needed to feed it hourly from a dropper, keep it warm and it might survive. The poor little thing was far beyond my abilities to save but for one day that little bird needed me as no one else ever had.
I graduated to caring for turtles, hamsters, cats and dogs with much more success. When my dog would turn those big brown eyes on me while sitting at my feet, I knew the responsibility of being needed and it was wonderful.
I learned that my mom needed me to help around the house as her health faded. I knew just how needed I was when I returned from a week’s vacation from the little pet store that I worked at. Everyone was so happy to see me when I walked through the door on Monday morning.
I’ve found that being needed is a great thing. It builds self-confidence. It teaches you to appreciate yourself and find your unique talents. Loving relationships revolve around each one’s need for the other. But I find myself wrestling with the fact that the One whose love is most important to me doesn’t need me at all.
Mark 3:13 says that Jesus “called to him those he wanted”. He chose twelve to be his apostles. He would “send them out to preach and drive out demons” He called them. He had a job for them, a purpose. He wanted them. He loved them surely, but He never really needed them. In fact, you could argue that Jesus’ apostles were quite unnecessary to His purposes on Earth. At Christ’s most difficult moment they all deserted him. They fell asleep when He asked them to keep watch. They ran and hid. They skulked around the edges of the high priest’s court and denied knowing him. If you think about it, only one was needed to accomplish his purpose. Judas was the only one who had a part to play. Maybe Pontius Pilate, the High Priest and the Roman soldiers were part of it too, but Judas was the lynch pin to the whole operation. And even then, God’s plans would have gone forward without his help. Which means that even the Twelve Apostles were pretty much useless to Jesus. Yet Jesus called them and wanted them with him. Scripture tells us that. It tells us that we too, are called and wanted. And you start to realize that being wanted is so much better than being needed. Being wanted will take you beyond the “need” of earthly relationships and push you forward into the expanse of Godly love. There’s a huge gap between wants and needs but God’s wants will always take us farther than anything that we may think we need.