All I need

One of my favorite worship songs is “Draw Me Close," as sung by the Katinas on Michael W. Smith’s “Exodus” CD. God has used that song on multiple occasions to ambush me and penetrate my hardened interior and speak directly into my heart. The lyric that speaks to me most often is: “You’re all I want, You’re all I’ve ever needed.” The idea that God can be absolutely all I need, that he and I can work it all out, feels good to me. That theology feeds me.

But one evening recently as I was walking Lady The Labrador around the pond it occurred to me that, while it’s correct to sing, "You're all I need,” it isn't exactly accurate. I need more. I need other people. I need you.

My basic run-back-home personality is that of a loner. I like to take care of myself, and I like to do things for myself. I don't want a lot of special attention and I don't want to be tucked-in when I’m sick. I actually look forward to opportunities to be by myself, and if I know I’ll have long stretches of solitude coming up I’ll plan ahead the best way to use my time.

It is not unusual for me to spend an entire day speaking to no one between the time I say goodbye to Cyndi in the morning and the time I say hello to Cyndi in the evening except the person who takes my money for lunch. I’m not complaining about that, I’m bragging.

l guess my aloneness goes way back. I was an only child for the first twelve years of my life, and I played by myself more than with friends. I had no cousins that were my own age, and even my cousins who were nearly my age were all girls, and who knew how to play with girls. Not me. My small family and lack of siblings fed that part of my personality that wanted to be alone.

So it was natural, I believe, for me to develop a theology centered on personal discipleship and contemplation and meditation and reading and writing. Me and God, we were all I needed. Unfortunately, just me and God was too small. On my own I never got a clear picture of who God really was.

For example, if I hadn't found Cyndi I would never have known the spontaneous and creative nature of God. All I would’ve known would be the analytical predictable linear nature of God. I would’ve missed the adventure of change. I might’ve missed the joy of living through my heart. Left on my own, I would have too small a lens through which to know and understand all of God.

If I’d never met my friend from the Walk to Emmaus team who spent his pre-Jesus years in and out of jail and who once gave this testimony, "I’ve lived a crappy life," cleaning up his language because we were in a church, if I’d never met him I wouldn’t understand the biggest part of grace. For me, grace meant growing up knowing I was loved every day of my life. I was confident that I was saved by God's grace in spite of my shortcomings, but my shortcomings were not about jail and did not constitute a crappy life. What a shallow picture of grace I would’ve had, and what a small picture of God, if all I knew was my own story.

And what about my friend, Paul, who spends his days looking for ways to serve other people? I need him in my life to understand the servant nature of God. I am a pretty good servant if you’re careful what you ask me to do. I’m generous with my time and talents and energy and money, but I have a narrow range of interest. You will find it hard to get my attention, much less any service, outside that range. But because I have friends who consistently serve in far-reaching capacities, I understand the breadth and depth of God so much better. What a small picture of servanthood, or of God, I'd have on my own.

So on my walk around the pond I knew the song was correct, maybe God was all that I needed. But being a narrow-viewed human who has trouble seeing beyond his own tiny world, I also understood my need people for like you to help me know who God really is. Maybe the rest of that lyric - “You’re all I want, help me know You are near,” – is the key. God helps me to know him by providing examples around me.

Ephesians 3:18 says, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Thanks for helping me with that.



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


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