The words spoken were so different than they feel here. Here, dry and flat the words sound condemning; like little daggers that would pierce the heart and destroy the purpose found deep within. These words, written down seem like anything but what they truly were: life, joy, and a breath from God himself.
God doesn't need you.
It was a week of sickness and guilt. A week without the office hours, the hours of study, the careful exegesis of a single text. There was no time to parse verbs when I was too sick to hold my son. Yet the guilt stuck in my mind and wouldn't let go. You are not doing what you are called to do--not this week. You may come back fine next week, but not this one. This week, you are failing God.
And the words may be lies, but they express the feeling that was present deep in the pit of my stomach as I wrote out an under-prepared sermon. The sinking feeling in my pit as I knew that this message was a bare bones message. It didn't have all the careful study, and it lacked all the fancy maneuvers that we minister's have been trained to use. There were no fancy transitions, no clear object lesson. There was no overriding story that would weave throughout. There was the text, some obvious statements from the text, and a time of prayer.
Not good enough.
The message wore on in my soul as I practiced before church. The message nagged my through worship, through the special time of prayer set aside to dedicate our church's little ones, all the way to standing at the pulpit. This one is gonna fall flat.
God doesn't need you.
I finished the sermon, as uneventful as I expected. I shook hands after the service and said kind words when people said kind words to me. We seemed comfortable pretending that things went better than they did, and I was thankful for it. I already know it was bad, I didn't need beat up over it.
A woman who serves faithfully and thinks deeply approaches me with the look of seriousness that defines her countenance. She comes up and thanks me for the message, and earnestly declares that God was working in the sermon this morning. Kind words, but from her I know they are sincere. I decide to be sincere too. I failed in prep this week, I explain. This week of sickness held me back from using my training or doing all the things that are sure to fire up a congregation. My continued sickness meant that my delivery was a bit monotone and it certainly lacked energy. She smiled, and she spoke words of life:
"God doesn't need you."
She spoke, a prophetess in that moment, reminding me that it is not in my training, my verbal capabilities, or an anything about me, that success is defined. God doesn't need me to convict hearts, to transform families, to reach the lost, or to convict the sinner. God doesn't need me. He doesn't need my thoughts on his word, he just needs himself. God needs God to do God things.
And the fact that he chooses to work within me, through me, and in spite of me is grace undeserved. God doesn't need me, but he chooses to use me. God doesn't have to have me, but he finds joy in using my brokenness for his glory.
And perhaps you are weighed down by what you must do, what can't be accomplished unless you go, go, go. Perhaps you feel the weight of a community on your shoulders, and you are told the lie that they depend upon you. Can I share something life giving:
God doesn't need you. He is not dependant upon you. He loves you. He chooses you. He works in you.
But God. Does. Not. Need. You.