The Power of Need.
There is a popular sentiment among Christians — one I hear often:
“It’s hard to do life in DC.”
It doesn’t scream “more-than-conquerors”, but for all intents and purposes - I don’t disagree. DC is fast, expensive and cold (literally and figuratively). It’s the political capital of the world, and those involved directly (and indirectly — meaning everyone) live in a perpetual cycle of posturing and networking. The traffic is debatably the worst in the country and the real estate prices are comically cosmic.
But most importantly — the food is not great.
So yeah — life can feel pretty crummy in DC. When you have to deal with all her baggage and realize the best of her is a sponge-bread called injera — it’s quite easy to feel like a kite dancing in a hurricane.
But in the midst of all these tragedies in the first-world order, I find myself deeply sad. Not because I pity myself for being in an abusive relationship, and especially not because I spent most of my entire 20's stubbornly ignoring this truth. I am sad because I realize I’m wrong. We’re all wrong. We’re not victims in a physically or mentally abusive relationship.
We’re the ones abusing a relationship.
We are the problem.
Let’s say we found ourselves in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, or Seoul. And if by chance we happen to find believers there, I am willing to bet that they would share in our sentiment. “It’s hard to do life in ________.” Weird charismatic vibes and principality talks aside, it’s probably because the common denominator isn’t that these places are all fashion drivers of the world — but it’s people. People are the issue.
Let’s go back to THE statement: “It’s hard to do life in DC.” If we were to honestly examine the spirit of the sentiment, and more importantly, if we were a bit more honest with ourselves, I would gather that this is what we actually mean —
“It’s hard to balance a life of faith AND the life that (I think) I need in ______.”
So the issue is value — what do you believe you need?
And for our culture, this is getting tricky. We want too many things. We “need” too much. We want to lose weight, but we also need cake. We want to commit to a small group, but we also need Netflix. We want to be a good father, but we also need the promotion. And in the midst of life, our needs aren’t prioritized to what’s truly essential. In fact, we haven’t even stopped to process our true desires. Instead we follow trends that are fed to us. This leads to an impossible list of things to-do, which leads to a culture of mass-quantity over rare-quality, and a finale of burn-out against the practicality of time, bandwidth, and energy. So we become abusers. We abuse our bodies, minds, and each other. Because we don’t have peace. So we feel guilty and decide the best remedy is to do more. Achieve more. Move-up more. More.
After all — we are our own worst critic, enemy.
In this, we’ve forgotten the one thing that makes us invaluable. Our world has quietly, but systematically convinced us that it’s the worst thing to be.
But realizing all this now, doesn’t make it easy. Being human also means we have bad tendencies, vices. The current state of culture doesn’t help either. We are the Generation of F.O.M.O. — we can’t miss anything. We are the Golden Era of Technology — we must achieve everything. But I am learning to control what I can, and let go of what I can’t. I think that is the true definition of balance. Going after the things we can control with fearless excellence, while letting complete go of the things we can’t. What balance isn’t, is working 120 hours, and buying your kid a $500 toy to make up for the missed rehearsal. Because what is it to kill myself in accomplishing everything the world has to offer, if it’s swimming against the current of God’s will?
So what’s essential?
If what I am presenting has any value, the question above is the coup de grace. And womp-womp — I can’t tell you what’s essential for you. You will have to journey that for yourself.
What I can do, is give you a snapshot of my journey.
I spent the last ten years wrestling with God. Well to be precise, it’s been a tug-of-war. My view of God was that he was the asshole who wanted to take the fun out of everything. And it felt like my life was a perpetual tug-of-war of things I valued, only to have The Asshole take it away. Family, Friends, Romance, Money, Ministry (ironic huh), Health, and much more. He seemed to be best at taking things away from me. He felt like the thief in the night, more than anyone else. But it’s amazing when you realize that we view our world through the lens of our character. Looking back now, I realized he wasn’t against me, but rather fighting for me to help me realize that those things made for great tools, but terrible masters. In essence — he wasn’t taking valuable and symbiotic organisms away from me, but pulling toxic and parasitic leeches off of me.
He was fighting for me, not against me. And I see that now.
In 2017, I turn 30. Some things have changed, some remain the same. It is still a dog-fight despite all that has happened. Daily I am tempted to hold Him hostage against the things that I “need.” And daily I am met with evermore grace to realize He is indeed sufficient. But I am entering this year with more desperation than ever. Because I am, no, we are nowhere near done — revival has to come in DC. I believe it will come as we lay down our “needs” and idols, and find sufficiency in Him. I believe it will come when we truly want influence in the spheres for His agenda, not ours. I believe it will come when we keep the main thing, the main-thing.
A Kingdom Essentialism.
I called this entry the “Power of Need” because our needs drive us. I believe there is a supernatural revelation when we transition from the needs of the flesh, to the needs of His Kingdom. The difference between the prodigal son, and his brother is that one needed the work of His hands while the other needed the work of his hands. A transformative work through grace.
What you believe you need, will always dictate what you do.
I hope in 2017, we all decide rightly.