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Posts Tagged ‘humble’

I’m not sure which is harder, contemplating this scripture from the book of Mark or reading Oswald Chambers’ entry for March 12.

labyrinthAfter calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. [Mark 5:34-35, CEB]

Chambers wrote: Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ”

Sometimes “taking up our cross” is couched in testing language. Test God, give this up or let go of that, and yTower of Babelou’ll see, God will bless you. Or, and I’m sure I’m not alone, there’s a lot of “gimme prayers,” even ones are cloaked in the name of empathy: “Oh Lord, heal so and so, I love them so much.” It’s as though our love or our prayers might just do the trick and turn God’s heart. Or even worse, those times we have called on God exchange our lives for someone else’s, as though that kind of martyrdom would make a difference; after all, we would only inflict loss and pain on those around us.

I am thoroughly self-centric. I confess it amidst great embarrassment. Just by writing, I have to admit to a certain audaciousness. I have done the very thing Oswald speaks of: flashing God’s power in my life. [Look what God did for little old me.]

egoPerhaps it’s a little of Eckart Tolle coming through, his view of the ego and its battle with Spirit/Now/Presence, however it would be best to express it in his terms. But the point is the same: the “I” in us continually seeks to find the center of our universe. That “I” says, “How does this affect me? What happens to me? What about me? What about what’s best for me?” (Effie sings in Dream Girls)

pelican sacrificeTruly losing oneself happens without fanfare. As soon as I say, oh I have given up all for Christ and carry His cross, well, quite honestly, I’ve just “found” myself wearing different stripes. Nothing has really changed.

No. Losing oneself slips in unnoticed.

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Stockphoto by Jessica at Deviant Art

Stockphoto by Jessica at Deviant Art

The essence of the Christian faith is very simple: love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself. “On these two commandments hang the law and the prophets” (so written in Matthew 22:38). And yet, most of us are not very good at this kind of loving. Whether we have been faithful followers of Christ for many years or newly minted converts, these two commands trip us up every time. And for this reason, I look forward to intentional times of reflection and self-examination to refresh my focus, whether it’s a retreat or a study or season. Yes, for this reason, I observe Lent each year.

For 2015, I have compiled a devotional for Lent (see Links), with a series of readings and scriptures for meditation. And by meditation, I mean, to read through the selections slowly, to consider, not only their meaning, but their application to present circumstances and faith.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” [II Chronicles 7:14, NIV]

Within this scripture lives a promise for me (and any believer) which I have read often but I haven’t actively pursued. Why? Because a chase for humility has always been a fear-laden prospect for me. I have blanched at the thought of some inevitable loss or pain that might manifest as part of the humbling “package.” Humility comes with a cost, I think.

And now, here I am, in grief and recovery from the death of my husband. Intellectually, I know his passing had nothing in particular to do with my lack of humility but, at the same time, I see everything in the light of him gone. For, you see, I am humbled by the unexpected turn in our family’s resources and relationships (we lost a breadwinner, a husband, a father, a brother, and an uncle). Only his parents escaped this sorrow, for they preceded him into that place we call heaven.

praying22I am humbled by the outpouring of love from my friends, my church, my colleagues, my neighbors, and even, quite honestly, strangers too. I am humbled by the unexpected journey I face. I am humbled by the years that have passed and how I took them for granted. I am humbled by the steadfastness and nearness of God, the whispers of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as well as the memories and message of Christ Jesus. But more importantly, I am humbled by the call to pray. Really.
And for this reason, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” [Psalm 27:13, NIV]

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