Monday, July 10, 2006

Knowing the difference

God won’t always give you what you want, but He will always provide what you need.

This statement has turned over and over again in my head lately. When a statement, which to another person might seem plain and inconsequential, sticks in my head it’s usually because it applies so perfectly to my life that I can’t imagine someone else has through words put a voice to a deep abiding feeling or thought that haunts my heart and mind.

Then the idea, the concept, the truth wraps itself around my heart and squeezes at the very fears and doubts that have taken root deep within me. I find myself telling other people the idea, sharing it with someone to ease a burden, challenging a younger girl with the truth that is so hard to grasp and hold on to, and finding the words coming to mind in the silent spaces of my questioning.

God won’t always give you what you want, but He will always provide what you need.

Hard words to accept.

Harder words to accept as they are offered . . . . in love.

From childhood we confuse wants and needs. For wants are born of a desire fully within ourselves. They come from many places, some selfish, some selfless, but wants always find their root in us. Needs are different. They are not things we create in and by ourselves, needs exist before we exist. They are timeless and not bound by the whims of our fancy. You could say that wants are fully human while needs are fully divine.

We need water to survive. We want a Dr. Pepper to quench our thirst. The want is driven fully by our preference; it is fully rooted in us, in humanity. The need is a concept of creation, for our bodies were made with the necessity of water, it is part of God's design of man. The water will meet our need; the Dr. Pepper will fulfill our want. A simplistic example but it fits.

But let’s move past the simplistic to areas a bit closer to the heart, for we can give a laundry list of our wants (Christmas and birthdays seem to be opportune times for these) but there are those wants we hold a bit closer to our hearts. The wants that might only be spoken in the quietness of solitude, or maybe whispered in prayer, and all too often remain silent longings that can’t even be placed in words. These wants take on a significance that moves them past a simple want to a desire. And with any desire, our hearts get involved, our hopes are lifted, and we bring them to God to ask of Him to give them to us. And often somewhere in the midst of all this we have convinced ourselves that this is exactly what we need.

There we find the conflict. For we have moved a want that was born deep within ourselves to a need, that is formed outside of ourselves. Remember the Dr. Pepper and the water, both will satisfy thirst but one was created to meet our need and the other was created to fulfill our want.

I find myself mourning the wants that I don’t receive. I see only my wants, blind to my needs. I see only the temporal, the immediate, the best of what is right before my eyes, and all the things that litter the road behind me, things that I wanted but never received. I find myself arguing with God trying to convince Him that my wants really are needs, that what I have determined to be best for me is better than what He knows. And often I end up angry and hurt that God withheld from me what I wanted so desperately, what I had desired for so long and with so much of myself. I find myself questioning His love because that which I found that I wanted so much was not something He choose to give me.

And yet God is my creator, who made me exactly as He designed, knowing all of who I was, am, and will become, and He knows my needs. For my needs are not born of the moment, they aren’t formed by the temporal, and they aren’t dictated by the visible. Just as God created me, He created my needs and He knew exactly what provision would meet my needs. Provision that would come by His hand.

God knows the difference between a want and a need. He sees how one will satisfy me for a moment but will in the end never quench that which I really seek. For, in all honesty, it is the needs that my heart desires. Those desires are built deep within me, created for just that moment when God will provide for each need. The urgency of the immediate wants masks the deep seeded desires of the needs.

But knowing the difference is hard for us, hard for me.

God won’t always give you what you want, but He will always provide what you need.

Maybe it is there that contentment is found, that mysterious place of seemingly magical perfection where we are satisfied with exactly what we have at the moment. Contentment has always seemed so unreachable to me, a mirage that changes and shifts, something we seek for but never really find. And yet I think it rests right there, smack in the middle of that statement, right there in the difference between want and need.

I think I now understand better Paul when he spoke to the Philippians about the secret of being content.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4: 12-13
Maybe the “do everything” wasn’t being able to overcome a great obstacle or do something so outside of our abilities, but living, simply living somewhere in the midst of the beautiful magical perfection of contentment because God had given him the strength to know the difference.

God won’t always give you what you want, but He will always provide what you need.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” – knowing the difference.
I want to trade the frustrating and painful place of disappointment in not receiving my wants for the sweet land of contentment where I trust that He has and always will provide for all I need.
I'm working on knowing the difference.


Blogger bethy31 said...

Great food for thought - thank you for sharing AND I LOVE your site design...

7/11/2006 9:16 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

thanks bethy31, my friend Eddie at posted note designed it, you can check him out in my links

7/11/2006 9:36 AM  
Blogger Ben said...


God created some needs in us so that we will trust in Him. I think it is okay to want something you need.

Not getting the whole Dr. Pepper vs. Water thing... I want water over Dr. Pepper. ;) Thank you God for not making streams of Dr. Pepper.

7/11/2006 10:36 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Hey Katie,
That was really good. I just had a few seconds to check a couple blogs, and I'm glad I did. I miss all the encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and laughter that all of my great blog friends bring. But I'll be back soon! You have a great week!

7/11/2006 3:44 PM  
Blogger Tony Myles said...

In a broken and fallen world, we are guaranteed a broken and fallen world.

Yet Jesus breaks through and tells us there is more... to trust him.

In the meantime, we still live in a broken and fallen world.

And yet we do so holding the hand of the one who pulls us out for air.

7/12/2006 12:19 AM  
Blogger Rabby said...

Yeah an I'll say this: great post an it's wut I've been learning myself. An it's hard to practice contentment but we look at it like this: we have life forever in Christ to praise the Lord an all, so ever thing else will just fall by the wayside anyhow.

And now I got to git out a here.

7/12/2006 7:29 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Have to agree with what Tony Said... The 2 certains we have in life is That we live in a broken world and the other is that Christ is the cure... The problem is that one often is much more "visible"

7/12/2006 1:14 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Ahhhh Tony, such a wise guy (not wiseguy).

Yep, that is it (in much less words) the "difference" or contentment . . . . living in one world while hoping for the other, all while holding the hand of the King.

And I'm with steve on the visible, we focus on what is seen instead of what is unseen and maybe what we want instead of what we need

7/12/2006 1:25 PM  

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