It’s a good thing God is patient. About a week ago I had “Just a Thought,” although at that point it was more of… “Um Hello!”
Here’s the story. A little over a month ago I did something to my right fore arm that caused it constant pain that increased sharply when strained. It also caused a grip strength issue with my right hand. It was severe enough that I held my drinks with my left hand out of fear of dropping them and, of course, the accompanying pain. The problem was we had just moved and a lot of things had to be done. It was clearly obvious, however, that the only way this would heal would be to let it rest. This went well… for 3 days. The pain eased up. Although it had not completely gone away, I only felt a small risk when lifting my coffee with my right hand. It remained obvious though, that for it to continue to heal I would have to continue not using it. I had to trust those around me to pick up the slack. I had to humble myself and watch as others did “my work.” I had to accept that some things would not get done, or at least not when or exactly how I wanted them done. I had to give up Control and Trust God to have my back.
Like I said, that went well for about 3 days. After that I started moving the line. “I will just lift this one thing… it’s not that heavy or too far.” Of course, once that one thing was moved there was one more little thing I had to do. A pattern was forming. The more I did the more I “Needed” to do. Yes, all progress on my arm was quickly lost. I actually repeated this cycle a couple of times. Then the morning came where my arm was feeling better and I started to debate in my head what I “Needed” to do that day, and yes, once again I moved the line. The difference this time? As I walked through the house contemplating where I would move that line I wacked my elbow on a door frame. I wacked it on a spot I couldn’t find myself, but the door frame had no problem. Instant sharp pain and a question: “Um, Hello… what was it that you Needed again?”
That day and a few that followed were rather uneventful. I did very little and nothing that required use of my right arm. Then we came to another work weekend. But not just a work weekend, one with scheduled events that required certain progress and particular tasks to be completed. I may not have moved the line much on that Saturday, but I pushed on it pretty hard. After all, there were things I “Needed” to get done. After breakfast the next morning work began again. Knowing that I was not supposed to be using my arm Bethany said, “You don’t need to lift that saw. I can get it.” I thought “Ok, Bethany can get it, but it’s not that heavy and we “Need” to get this done.” So, I lifted the saw. As I lifted the saw and turned to set it on the bench I felt something. I felt a familiar and painful twitch in my back. Familiar because I had felt it occasionally over the last 20 years, each time followed by 3 days on my back in pain. But, the carpet guy was due in a couple of hours and I “Needed” to get this done first. So, I gritted my teeth and continued to work… for about 15 minutes. At which time I barely made it up the stairs (with help) to lie down. Bethany continued to complete the work alone until the carpet layer arrived and lent her a hand to get it done. I guess I didn’t “Need” to do it after all.
As a result of my “Need” to lift the saw and my “Need” to continue working that extra 15 minutes, the condition of my back was worse than ever before. As mentioned, it usually took 3 days lying on the couch, limiting movement to bathroom trips and moving to my bed at night. After the 3 days there was substantial improvement where I could slowly resume life as normal. This time I could barely get off the couch for my first bathroom trip and after did not return to the couch but literally fell into bed. I lay in that position for 3 days, never moving. On the third day I grit my teeth again and headed the 20 steps to the bathroom. Clinging to walls, about 12 steps in, I hung off that wall calling for help to get back to the bed. On the fifth day, we called for an ambulance to get me out of the house and to the E.R. because now the pain was too great to stand.
Now, on day 6, after the EMS workers carried me back into my home and laid me back in bed, I looked back at lifting that saw and realized I also heard something else at that moment… “Your Attention Please!”
In the days between wacking my arm and lifting that saw, I had sat in a hospital room with my dad (Pa). We had discussed a statement he had made when asked about the last few months of his life. He said, “They were the most stressful in my life (80 years).” I asked him “Why” he was stressed and he began to tell me “What” was stressing him out. I asked again, clarifying. “Why were you stressed?” He began again to tell me “What” the stressors were. I stopped him and explained I wasn’t asking “What” stressed him out but “Why” he chose to let them stress him out? This led to a discussion any of us could have in our own minds.
I asked Pa, what does the Bible say we “Need?”
Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?
28 And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans strive after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.
The short answer… God. God is what we “Need.” Everything else is “Want.” Not to imply wants are always or in themselves bad. Our discussion went into looking back at those things that stressed him out. One by one we looked at them and I asked: is that something you “Need” or something you “Want”? In considering Matthew 6 and other verses, the answer always had to be the same. No matter how well intentioned, how personal or impactful, they were still “Wants.” Through the eyes and emotions of the physical they sure feel like “Needs,” but through the eyes of the believer, those who claim to stand in the spiritual world, the only “Need” is God.
Pa “Wants” his daughter to be happy, nicer to those around her and blessed by God’s hand. We discussed that this is a loving view any father, mother or sibling should “Want.” But, we also saw that this was the physical outcome we “Wanted” for her, not the spiritual one. No matter how much we “Want” all those things and more for her, we don’t “Need” them. All we “Need” is God. Out of that “Need” we must Trust God to look out for her and give her every opportunity to choose Him, and, in choosing Him, see that all she “Needs” is God. From that understanding she will be happy, she will be nicer to those around her and she will be blessed by God’s hand. We must also accept that she has the right to “Choose” to take advantage of one of those opportunities or not. I asked Pa if the last chance his daughter would have to choose God would be the moments between being struck by lightning and the resulting death, wouldn’t he pray for lightning? He realized in that moment that what he “Wanted” most for her was for her to realize her “Need” for God and only God. He also understood that if it had to come at a physical price for her or himself, he should pray for that price to be paid. We discussed that whether she acted like his “little princess” or the wicked witch of the west, he can choose not to let it stress him. We all want the first and have felt the second, but neither is relevant if we Trust God and don’t turn our “Wants” into our “Need.” I “Want” all God has to offer my sister, but I don’t “Need” her to have it. I am no longer stressed by her and Pa didn’t have to be either, because I realized all I “Need” is God and all He wants from us is to come to that understanding.
As we all do, Pa “Wants” the bills not to be a burden, food on the table, and a house to put that table in. He “Wants” good health, great friends and a better world. While all these things are not sinful desires, the Bible is clear, they are only “Wants.” God is to be our only “Need.” This brought us back to my question for Pa: “Why” are you stressed? Whether it is stress, worry, fear, frustration, anger, depression or any of the others you can think of, the “Why” is always the same. We have confused our “Wants” with our “Needs.” If the only thing we “Need” is God, then our “Wants” have no lasting importance.
I “Want” Carla to be around for a while, but a few weeks ago a medical situation arose that seriously threatened that. On the ambulance ride Carla found herself face to face with God and having to separate her “Wants” from her “Need.” She decided she “Needed” to Trust God and that meant setting ALL her “Wants” aside. She told God she “Wanted” to live, but…… all she “Needed” was Him. So, whether He chose to leave her in the physical world or take her with Him to the spiritual one, she Trusted Him and knew it was for the betterment of His kingdom, whichever He chose.
Having not yet been made aware of this moment, I got some not so approving responses when I told people pretty much the same thing in my medical updates. Some could not understand why I was not worried or “stressed.” My response? I don’t “Need” Carla around, I only “Want” her around. So, live or die, I was content that God would use the event for the benefit of His Kingdom.
(Note: Following that ambulance ride Carla went through a barrage of tests, scans and blood draws. The conclusion? Massive problems with her heart that would require immediate open-heart surgery. Everyone but the surgeon agreed (Thank God). The surgeon said “wait, wait and wait…” Over the next two weeks those tests were repeated and more were done. The results? Your heart is healthy “you have no need for surgery.” The condition the original tests and diagnosis declared could not have reversed naturally in a week! The only answer has to be God! So… What if, when God said to Carla in the ambulance, “Your Attention Please!” and then asked her, “What do you “Need”?” her answer had been different? Or what if I “Needed” Carla more than I Trusted God and “Needed” His will? Would the outcome have been the same? Glad we didn’t have to find out!)
So, here we are. Lying in bed only weeks after this event with Carla and only days after that conversation with Pa. Here I am looking at the same ceiling for a week. I look back and ask: what did I “Need?” It’s amazing how sometimes we can get it right in the big things and lose it completely in the little moments. I “Needed” to get things done, I “Needed” to do my part, I “Needed” control. So, I used that arm anyways. Until God said “Um Hello” and I said, oh that’s right. Then proceeded to “Need” other than God again and God had to say, “Your Attention Please!” Now, lying here, I “Want” a lot of things and I find myself completely without the power to get them. Today… In this moment… All I “Need” is God.
God honored the “Need” I had shown for Him over recent years and He provided my “Wants.” I wanted a loving and supportive family. I “Wanted” a home I could relax in and enjoy. I “Wanted” progress on work on that home. I “Wanted” a lot of things, but, in reaching for that saw, I chose not to see that God had already honored my “Need” for Him and He had already supplied my “Wants”. I confused my “Wants” with my “Need” and, by that choice, removed myself from His blessing.
So, “Just a Thought,” from me to you. Don’t wind up stuck in bed unable to enjoy all the “Wants” God has blessed you with! Trust Him and remember He is your only “Need” so that He won’t have to say to you, “Um Hello! Always “Need” God! Don’t force Him to say, “Your Attention Please!”
© Scott A Caughel 10/19/2018