This morning, on the way to work, I encountered a homeless man standing on the side of the road. He held a sign that read “I need something to eat…please help me.” What intrigued me about the sign was that the word “need” was actually written in small letters above another word that had been crossed out…want. I pulled over and introduced myself in the short time I had before the light turned green, all the while wondering at what point want became need for this man. At what point did something he crave become something he could not live without? When I asked him about it, he responded that “want” and “need” were basically the same things to him at this point in his life.
Want. Need. I never knew the two could coexist. I’ve always wanted things I didn’t need and needed things I didn’t want. When I was five, I didn’t want to eat my vegetables but was told I needed to. In high school, I didn’t want to study but was told I needed to. In college, I didn’t want to think about my future but was told I needed to. I could use some coffee right now, but I don’t need it. The new iPhone looks really tempting, but I don’t need it (I am eligible for an upgrade though). A vacation would be nice, but I don’t need one.
To a man with no home, no job, and no family, want and need are one and the same. I guess the less you have, the less you actually think you need. In other words, if want and need are on opposite sides of a spectrum, it seems they can only be brought together by a growing sense of brokenness and abandon. This idea is never more true than in a person’s relationship with the Lord. There have been times in my own life when I wanted to know Christ but didn’t think I needed Him. Then there have been times when I knew I needed Christ to save me but didn’t want to let him.
Lord, strip me of my pride, selfishness, and everything else I hold onto so tightly in this world that the marriage of want and need might truly be actualized in my pursuit of You.