One of the most perplexing (to me) statements made by Christians is “God needs me”. They usually use it within the context of God needing them to do something for the Kingdom, such as street ministry work or going on an overseas mission or doing volunteer work at a local church. Yes, God invites us to help him with his ongoing work of saving souls, but he doesn’t need us. We need him.
Several years ago, while taking a walk after a snowstorm, I came across a young father and his son shoveling a driveway. The father would have been in his early thirties and the son around 3 or 4. The father had on a dark dress coat and business suit (he’d likely just come home from work) and the son was bundled head to toe in a bright red snow suit. As I stood watching the unlikely work team, I could see that for every shovelful of snow the father cleared from the driveway, the little boy would knock down at least two shovelfuls worth with his red toy shovel. While the father was steadily working his way, forging an ever-widening path through the snow, the little boy would throw a couple of tiny shovelfuls up in the air, and then take a break to make a snowball or snow angel or just stomp around on the growing mountain of snow the father was building from his labors.
I stood for about 10 minutes in the cold bright afternoon sunshine, mesmerized by the two and laughing quietly to myself. The father was infinitely patient with his “helper” who seemed completely oblivious to how much he was impeding the progress of the work. It was clear that the child earnestly wanted to help his father and believed he was doing so, just as it was equally clear that the child was adding to the father’s labors. Here was a man, just home from a day of petty office politics and a long frustrating commute back and forth; he was likely hungry and tired and the last thing he wanted to do was shovel the driveway, but the driveway had to be shoveled, so he did it. And there was his little child, bursting with boundless energy and enthusiasm but getting under his feet and making his work harder – but it was his child, and he loved him so much and loved being with him so much, he didn’t see the mess he was making as a mess; he saw it as “helping”.
That’s how we “help” God. Remember the scripture about all our righteousnesses being as filthy rags? Well, all our “help” is pretty much the same. If he wanted to, God could do everything that needs to be done on his own, and in a twinkling. But he has INVITED us to help him because he loves us so much and is so proud of us and our willingness to help.
God doesn’t need us; we need him. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to believe that you and your little red toy shovel are actually accomplishing anything.