This article is part of our series on broken wells. In Gretchen’s new book, The Well-Watered Woman, chapter 5 is about “Forsaking Broken Wells.” We long for the living water that Jesus offers (John 4:10) but too often settle for empty wells and broken cisterns (Jer. 2:11-13). Gretchen explains, “We spend a lot of our lives trying to force empty wells to provide for us. Just as you can’t make a broken mug hold coffee, you can’t make an idol yield lasting joy.” This series will follow the four common broken wells that Gretchen shares in her book, digging deeper into the pitfalls of each well and the better hope offered to us in living water. Today we're discussing the broken well of Needing Jesus + Something.
I was zipping through Target the other day, grabbing some milk, a birthday present, and a fresh bottle of shampoo. I was rushing to meet a friend for lunch, but I decided to swing past the shoe aisle on a whim. When I picked up a pair of neutral espadrilles, I immediately decided I needed them. Never mind the other neutral sandals that filled the floor of my closet, these were much cuter and I just had to have them.
As I tossed them in the cart, checked out, and headed to lunch, I began daydreaming about the outfits I would wear with my new shoes. Before even realizing it, I had mentally decided I now needed a new pair of jeans and the white peasant top I had passed in TJ Maxx last week to match my new shoes. Ultimately, the new shoes I thought I needed didn’t satisfy me; they only increased my appetite for more. And that’s the thing about “needing” anything other than Jesus. See, we will always be left empty and wanting more, never truly satisfied.
Needs that Never Satisfy
After returning my new espadrilles, I began thinking about all of the things I categorize as a “need” in my life other than Jesus. Despite knowing Jesus is enough, I often live like I need more.
I need caffeine to get me through a busy ahead.
Or I need my husband to make me feel truly loved.
I need a new outfit to help me feel more confident.
And I need the perfect career to live out my true purpose.
I need a fun group of friends to help me live an abundant life.
Then I need a beautiful home to get the rest I long for.
Oh, and I need Jesus.
My list of “needs” could go on and on. And while most of the things on my list aren’t inherently bad things—coffee, new clothes, and a loving husband can all be gracious gifts from the Lord—I have to be careful not to elevate the gifts of God to the status of God. By allowing something other than Jesus to become a need, we erect it as an idol in our hearts and bow down to it. But it’s not okay to keep worshipping our idols just because we worship Jesus too. From the days of Moses until now, God has made it clear—no other name is worthy. I need nothing else but him.
What We Believe Changes How We Live
Growing up in church, I learned of my need for Jesus from a very young age. And every day of my life since then has been a testament to needing him desperately. Jesus has walked me through countless trials, held me in my darkest nights, and offered me peace beyond my own understanding. Above all else, he has forgiven me of my sin, set my hope in heaven, and redeemed even the most broken parts of my soul. Truly, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I need Jesus.
But needing Jesus and needing only Jesus are two different things.
I know that I need Jesus, but I often forget that I only need him. Theoretically, Jesus is enough, but practically I often live like I need more. Maybe you can relate to some of the needs I listed earlier? I might proclaim to believe all I need is Jesus, but my words, actions, and thoughts reveal that I think Jesus plus (whatever I am currently longing for) will satisfy me.
While our flesh will often long for things other than Jesus, we have to constantly remind ourselves that only Jesus will ever truly satisfy. Just like my new espadrilles left me wanting more, anything other than Jesus will leave us empty and unsatisfied. Any other well in which we attempt to draw our hope will ultimately come up dry, leaving us thirsty for more. Only Jesus can provide everything that we truly need. Jesus + nothing = everything.
When We Add to Jesus, We Miss the Point
In his mercy, God has graciously allowed seasons in my life in which he has taken away so many of the things I try to add to him. And each time I am left with the simple realization that he is truly enough. Sadly, it’s not until God tears down my idols that I can truly see his sufficiency play out in my life. Each time I add to Jesus, I am robbing myself of the chance to learn that Jesus, only Jesus, is more than enough. Corrie ten Boom said it this way, “You can never learn that Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have.”
If you struggle with adding to Jesus and “needing” a long list of other things, consider fasting from whatever it is that has gripped your heart as an idol. Fasting doesn’t have to be abstaining from food (although in some cases certain foods or caffeine might be your idol). But you could also fast from shopping for clothes or home decor, or you could even fast from television or social media. Often when I find myself drifting from Christ and searching for satisfaction in the world, fasting is the spiritual discipline that reminds me I truly only need Jesus. By eliminating everything we think we need, we can finally find everything we actually need in Christ.
As women of God, simply knowing we need Jesus isn’t enough. We have to learn that we need only Jesus. Then we have to be willing to lay aside all of the things we try to elevate and simply rest in his sufficiency in our lives. And while it may not be easy, it’s well worth it in the end. Because when Jesus is all you need, you’ll never lack for anything.