“My heart is not lifted up, O Lord, my eyes are not raised too high. I do not concern myself with great matters, or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 131:1-3)
Charles Spurgeon once said that Psalm 131 is “one of the shortest psalms to read, yet one of the hardest to live.” That’s because this ancient prayer calls for us to do something that is totally foreign and counterintuitive—to become smaller. It calls us to abandon our high ways of thinking and seeing and being, and lower ourselves. It calls us to abandon our need to be needed, our need to be big and high and visible, and become like a weaned child with its mother. It calls us to stop trying to climb up and begin to embrace the journey down. It calls us to stop our striving and jockeying and posturing, and become still and calm and quiet. It calls us to come to terms with that fact that we—in the very best sense of the word—are unnecessary.
For this life is not about us, but about God. And when we finally begin to realize that, we come to find out that being unnecessary is not as bad as we thought. In fact, it is a good and beautiful and life-giving thing. It allows us to live in joy and in freedom. It allows us to live out of love and not out of need. For it is our need to be necessary that is at the root of so many of our woes.
So let us pray this incredible prayer. Let us pray it regularly and let us pray it wholeheartedly. Who knows, some day we may wake up and realize that something wonderful has shifted deep within us. Somehow we have actually begun to embrace our unnecessary-ness. For only then will we be able to know the joy and the freedom and the power of a life lived totally for God, rather than for ourselves.