Because life comes at us so quickly, and because we get so busy moving about doing so much, we can easily forget or fail to realize how important God really is to us. I don’t just mean how important He is in our worship services or in our routine prayers. I’m talking about a basic recognition that we cannot function in any capacity at all but for the grace of God. We could not move, eat, breath, or accomplish anything in life apart from God’s continual sustenance.
When Daniel was called upon to translate the writing on the wall given to Belshazzar, he gave the reasons why Belshazzar would be deposed. Among the reasons, Belshazzar had exalted himself against “the Lord of heaven” and failed to humble himself even though he knew that “the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes” (Dan 5:21-22). He was willing to honor gods made of silver and gold, “But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified” (v. 23).
Notice that again: all life-breath and “all your ways” are in God’s hand. Everything that everyone does at all times is under God’s supervision and by His grace. Even Job, while perplexed over why God allowed him to suffer, still recognized God’s hand: “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:9-10)
We can never afford to remove God from our thinking or fail to glorify Him even for our life-breath and all our ways in which we function. God is foundational to all existence and all life. There is no escaping God’s watch and care. But let’s think about one way that we might easily forget:
Do you ever think, “I need God because I am a sinner in need of forgiveness”? This is true, but if we are not careful we might betray thinking that were it not for the fact that we have sinned, we really wouldn’t need God all that much. We just need Him because we need forgiveness. This presents a faulty view of God, humanity, and our purpose. God is not some machine that we plug into to wipe away sin then unplug from so we can do our own thing (which, ironically, would be sinful). We need God all the time and for everything.
Before Adam and Eve sinned, they needed God. After all, they were living in God’s presence by His grace in God’s garden, having the breath of life because He gave it to them and continuing to live by His sustenance and love. So it is with all of us. He “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25) and the Lord “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3). All things were made in and through the Lord and “in him all things hold together” (Col 1:15-17). There is no time at which we can afford to say that we don’t need God. We needed Him before we sinned and we continue to need Him because we could not exist without Him.
Yet it is more than mere existence. We are made to serve God, to seek after Him, to live eternally with Him (Acts 17:27; 2 Cor 5:5). God did not make us for the purpose of sinning only to receive forgiveness and that’s that. He created us in His image to reign with Him (Gen 1:26-28) and to have an abundant life (John 10:10). Sin is the side-track, the distraction that derails and wrecks us. Forgiveness puts us back on track where we ought to have been — a bit worn but not without purpose and not without redemption. By the grace of God, we can still function — even excel — according to His eternal purposes.
I need to think in terms of working to glorify God at all times. I need to be grateful for forgiveness, but I also need to see my life and purpose as bigger than being forgiven. I have been made to live for the Lord. That’s why Paul would say, in a context of paying attention to the needs and consciences of others, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). And, “whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17). Our lives and service extend to all that we do.
Living with God was God’s plan from the beginning and we will continue to need Him even as we are before His throne eternally casting our crowns at His feet. I don’t need God only because I have sinned or just because I have a particular problem that needs solving. I just need God. And so do you.