God Doesn’t Need You
By: Kyle Rohane
It was Spring Break, and I felt like a hero. While many other college freshmen were traveling to the Gulf of Mexico for fun and relaxation, I had different plans. I rode on a greyhound with 30 other college students to help the people of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Our group would sleep on the floors of an abandoned hotel, bus out to the center of the destruction, and assist struggling families in the cleanup effort. It felt noble to sacrifice a week of pleasure to improve the lives of hurting people. God had a job to do in New Orleans, and our team was just the tool he needed.
When we arrived, things weren’t exactly as we expected. We weren’t the only team there to help—far from it. The hotel we stayed at was bursting with volunteers. Our team was given hammers, crowbars, and paper breathing masks, and we were bussed out to our assignment: a row of rotting houses infested with mold. We weren’t there to spruce things up; our job was to tear down these unsalvageable homes. Families watched grimly as we ripped down faded wallpaper and shoveled out broken kitchen appliances. Whatever self-righteousness I felt traveling to New Orleans evaporated when I threw out a damp, moldy teddy bear as parents comforted a sobbing child.
I learned something crucial on that trip: God doesn’t need us; he only invites us to come along. Mission trips and LeaderTreks Trips aren’t opportunities for us to play the part of Superman, swooping in to save the day while grateful people shout their thanks. God can solve any problem he wants without our help. He spoke the world into existence. What can we add to a power like that?
God didn’t need a reluctant, tongue-tied murderer to lead the Israelites out of slavery. God didn’t need a vengeful, disobedient runaway to preach grace to the people of Nineveh. God didn’t need a loud-mouthed, hardheaded deserter to help build his church. But he chose to use them anyways.
“Once we let go of the illusion that God needs to use us, we can accept a more beautiful truth: God wants to use us.”
In Acts 17:24–25, Paul preaches, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”
It feels good to be needed. But once we let go of the illusion that God needs to use us, we can accept a more beautiful truth: God wants to use us. He wants to show us how he cares for the poor and loves the lonely. He wants to bust us out of our comfort zones to see things from his perspective. He wants to transplant in us a heart for the people he cares about.
As we see over and over in the Bible and around the world today, God loves using inadequate people to shine his glory into the world. He uses us in these situations so we “would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27). We shouldn’t imagine him begrudgingly choosing us because we’re the only option he has. We should envision God carefully selecting us from a lineup of better-qualified people because he can’t wait to show us what he’s up to.
God didn’t need my college group to help with the New Orleans cleanup. He chose to bring us to that place, to break our hearts for a group of suffering people. He could have used others, but he picked us to clear some space so these families could start rebuilding their lives.
On our final day, we received no thank yous. We simply drove away in silence. On that long bus ride, I was filled with two unexpected feelings: a respect for the fortitude of the Louisianan families who forged ahead after so much had been swept away, and a quiet appreciation for God’s power to heal a situation that was beyond my ability to grasp.
About the Author
The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry… Read More