Years ago, our family stumbled across a couple of movies on TV, called Nanny McPhee. My family will tell you – once I find a movie I like, I will watch it every time it comes on, regardless of who is with me. And now, the Nanny McPhee movies fall into this category.
A brief background on the movies: Nanny McPhee is based on the book series Nurse Matilda written by the British children’s author Christianna Brand. Nanny McPhee is a Mary Poppins-type character who is called upon to help a family in need. There is a deeper lesson on unity, and a focus on helping the children learn and grow. She has a motto for the way she works; “When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.” I love these statements and they really hit home for me on many levels, especially with my relationship with Jesus.
There are two points made in the statement and I want to look at the first one first: When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When I think about my faith, and the times in my life I find myself needing God but wanting to fix everything myself (which honestly is always), God actually does not fight against that. Many times, He actually waits me out. Think about the times where we really need guidance, wisdom, provision or protection… in those times, we search out hundreds of ways to deal with on our own, thinking that we can fix it. It’s really cool that God stays – He does not abandon us as we attempt to go about it without Him. He realizes we need Him, and His hope is that we give up the fight and turn to Him for wisdom and guidance.
The second statement, though on the surface seems contradictory to the first, is an intriguing statement as well; When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. This statement has everything to do with God giving us the room to grow and learn. James writes about this in James 1:3-4:
“Because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I don’t believe for a second God ever departs us, but I do believe He leaves us alone to grow and mature in many circumstances. For me, I realize the trails and tests I have been through have helped me mature and grow. I’ve been tempted to wait on God to “fix” it all, instead of letting perseverance run its course. When He gets me upright, I have to begin to walk, moving forward toward purpose.
My prayer time begins to reflect less a person who is always in need, to a person who takes on the strength and gifts of Christ. A person who moves forward to deal with issues and praises Him in the process.
“Find it pure joy my brother and sisters when you face trails of many kinds.” (James 1:2)
It’s not that we don’t need God, but there is a time when our need to praise Him and find joy in where we are needs to outweigh our desire for Him to fix everything.