Needy, Desperate, and Loving It


Does your desire for independence keep you from depending on God's mercy?

"Needy college girl seeking 24/7 help. I am unable to do anything on my own. I have very frail health (physical, mental, emotional, etc). Please contact me ASAP for more information. (P.S. Also terrified of bees and flies.)"

Yup, doesn't sound all that attractive. I can't say for certain, but if that was my ad for a roommate, I'm betting that my roomie last semester might have thought twice before applying!

Lightheartedness aside, though—I've been thinking about my sin of independence lately. In a very biblical sense, the ad above is an accurate depiction of the way God longs for me to come to Him.

"You've always been such an independent girl," Mom commented to me the other day. As a kid, I remember running away from my parents on a snow trip to follow a set of prints I thought a lion had made. That was typical Lindsey. When I was sick, I'd always try to hide it and wouldn't speak until the pain was unbearable. If someone told me I wouldn't be able to do something, I'd harness all my energy toward that thing to prove them wrong.

There's nothing wrong with having a feisty personality streak. I'm always going to love freedom, I'm always going to enjoy challenges, and I'll probably always wander off on snow trips seeking adventure. When I said "my sin of independence," I wasn't making a slight against maturity and responsibility either; we need ample supplies of both to glorify Jesus as adults. I had something else in mind. What does the word "independent" literally mean? According to Merriam-Webster:

  • not dependent: as
  • not subject to control by others:self-governing
  • not affiliated with a larger controlling unit
  • not requiring or relying on something else
  • not looking to others for one's opinions or for guidance in conduct
  • not requiring or relying on others (as for care or livelihood)

The world extols these things. Who doesn't admire the woman who carries herself with an air of confident (which we all know is another word for sexy) self-reliance? You know the type. Self-assured, strong, polite but assertive, takes command easily, probably in possession of a pair of high-heeled boots. Anyway, the alternative sounds... well. Let's just say this: how many ladies want to be known as a clingy, desperate, helpless woman whose mind and will are easily controlled by someone else?

But if you're a Christian, I hope those last few words describe exactly how you seek to relate with God.

Look at the dictionary's list again—and notice how each one is incompatible with the call of a follower of Jesus.

Not dependent? "The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything" (Acts 17:24–25, emphasis added). If you want to be independent, you're lusting for God's job. He's the only independent one. Even on a physical level, we're dependent: we sink out of consciousness nightly, doing nothing to keep our steady rhythm of inhale-exhale going. Jesus is sustaining us 24/7.

Self-governing, not subject to control? "For by him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col 1:16–17, emphasis added). (See also Ephesians 1:11 and Proverbs 16:9.) Jesus controls tornadoes and grasshoppers, presidents and babies. He's King, I'm slave, and resisting His control by insisting on my way is close to the root of all sin. Insurrection.

Not requiring or relying on anyone? "The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'... Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (1 Cor. 12:21,27). Paul tells us that we're all parts of Jesus' Body, and we need each other to function as He designed us. I need people badly and daily—not their approval, but them. We need God, and one major way He provides for us is through the Church, His Body.

Not looking to others for guidance in conduct? "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice" (Prov. 12:15). (See also Proverbs 15:31–32, Proverbs 11:14, and James 1:5.) The Bible's word for self-reliant people is "fool." Pretty simple.

God wants us to come to Him clingy and needy—the antonym of independent. I use the word clingy because I think it fits. Yes, it does bring to mind that annoying OCD type who latches onto victims like a burr, but I want to be latched onto Christ obsessively, too. Our own wills and minds are no longer ours; we've been bought, and that should make us joyful slaves of the Master's will (1 Cor. 7:22–23).

When you and I start approaching God with anything other than an attitude of total desperation and need, we aren't showing strength. We're just showing our arrogance and acting more than a little silly. (Isn't that what trusting ourselves really is?) 

I want to be an openly dependent woman—a weak woman. A weak woman who knows it, rejoices in it, and constantly draws supernatural strength from Jesus. I need to ask God for incessant help, because I need Him incessantly; I'm literally unable to do anything worthwhile on my "own" without His Spirit's empowerment. 

I love these lyrics from a hymn remade by Jars of Clay:

I need Thee every hour in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide or life is in vain;
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee, every hour I need Thee;
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour?

Let those words mirror our hearts, Lord. Your grace is sufficient for us, since Your power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9–10)!

Questions for Discussion:

Learning how to function in the world as an adult is important. How can you guard against becoming self-reliant as you gain more freedom and responsibility?

Some people may believe that they can be highly independent by the dictionary's definition when it comes to relating with other people, but dependent when they relate with God. Why is this a contradiction?

Is your private prayer life deep? If not, why?

Why does prayer powerfully counteract our natural tendency to be self-reliant and independent?

Would your parents describe you as submissive to authority? Are you receptive to the wisdom and counsel of others, or do you tend to trust your own judgment?

Do you find it easy to accept service and help from the Body of Christ? If not, why?

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