View from a NEEDY world
I know what you say you want, but what do you NEED? If someone were to ask you what you NEEDED right now, how would you answer? I think my answer may refer to my morning with the dog. I gave her a big hug, which was great, then I imagined rather than hugging her I was hugging my children. That was lovely for a moment, then I thought about a ‘socially distanced’ walk with my children (w5hich may be the next steps..… and it didn’t feel quite so good.)
I could respond, that those who are alone, are blessed indeed… as this time becomes an opportunity to turn, loneliness into solitude, perhaps the most important spiritual journey of all.
(I begun this journey whilst abroad and struggling to live alone many many years ago… the journey is outlined as a chapter in a truly wonderful book, called Reaching Out, by the late Henri Nouwen.)
Anyway back to our present reality, everyone has needs. I believe that is inherent in our make-up. We were never MADE for independence. For the moment if I may dispense with our physical needs, of food, sleep, exercise etc. I want to concentrate on what I believe are our ‘deepest’ needs. Another way of referring to these is our deepest longings. In the study, These Three Things that we are exploring at the moment, we are offered a window into our deepest longings, to feel secure, significant and of value. This is a theology of the human person that has deeply influenced my life, based on teaching by the late Selwyn Hughes. Here’s a quote from the book I’m encouraging you to buy and read: These 3 things, by Mick Brooks,
‘When we really think about what is it we long for in life, we keep on coming back to these three things: security, self-worth and significance. The more deeply we are loved, the more secure we feel. The more we are valued, the more self-worth we experience. And the more we understand that there is a point to our existence, the more significant we feel. When all three needs are met by human love the soul begins to flourish….. but’
Human love and support, the fellowship of family, friends, church and colleagues can all help to meet these needs. Sadly these same fellowships, can also radically undermine them. However even with the proverbial ‘best will in the world’ the argument of this book is that human love alone can never fully meet these needs. There comes for all of us a moment of ‘existential’ lostness. I believe this is part of what is meant when the writer of Ecclesiastes says, ‘He has also set eternity into the hearts of men.’ Please don’t switch of at this point, and think Stephen is going too deep. This isn’t about anyone else, this is about YOU, your deepest longings, your heart of love and indeed those places where your heart is still longing to be loved.
For me this is why the Gospel is so wonderful, genuinely good news. Because God offers us a love that can deeply meet these longings in our hearts. We don’t earn this by making ourselves secure, or by establishing a portfolio of goodness that makes us significant, or even by acting to show that our lives are of great worth. As a child is loved by their parents, so we are simply made to receive God’s love. As John says, ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us.’ God’s love for us was never passive, he is the one who created, who called, who came, who loved us so much as to die. At Pentecost we remember God also fills us. Our lives are significant, secure and of value because God has made them so. Indeed he has made it so that all life is of value… for he breathes his life into us.
Lockdown, and indeed coming out of Lockdown is hard. But as Sue reminded us in her sermon recently from Romans 8… nothing can separate us from the love of God…. You are loved and so your life and all life is held secure in God’s arms, we are significant to God, so much so that he weeps and came himself to find us, there is a point to our lives, because he has made us for a relationship, with him by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and with others by the overflow of love.
I hope you will allow me a diagram to finish: This love that meets our deepest needs really can impact the whole of our life, indeed the whole of life. Here is a standard, , SPIRIT, SOUL, BODY diagram of the human person, but it also includes the teaching that Selwyn Hughes articulated that our thinking, our choosing our feeling and indeed even our physical bodies are all connected to our inner sense of security, significance and self-worth. If you’d like to explore more… please do buy Mick Brooks’ book, These Three Things and discover for yourself the impact that knowing God’s deepest love can have on your life.