Humility 101

“The world screams “You are enough” and we are desperate to believe it. But being enough is different from being worthy and valuable. We are beautiful people flawed to the core, but deeply worthy of love and of priceless value to our Creator God… every one. Jesus has no favorites. So to say “without You I am nothing” is not to say we have no value. This prayer simply says that by ourselves, we are unable to thrive.” Lisa Whittle

That last sentence hits me so hard… we are unable to thrive on our own apart from God. As much as we may try, (and boy do we try) it goes against everything in our spiritual nature to try and live life on our own. Now our flesh is another story, it wants its moment in the spotlight, to be sure. We try to “be enough” as we strive and wrangle our way to the next thing, and the dust never seems to settle. It’s actually quite alright that we aren’t enough, because that’s the beauty of serving a God who is:

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5

So we are not, in fact good enough or sufficient. Not on our own, anyways. Believing that our strength or wisdom comes from within is a short trip around the block, we end up right back where we started. The beauty of the Gospel is that it turns us away from our selfish, narrow selves and towards something far more satisfying and larger. It’s not that we don’t have value, in fact we are so important to God that He doesn’t want us wasting our lives on things that leave us empty. Likewise, we don’t ever need to feel bad about not being enough.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

The story in Mark 9 where Jesus’ disciples struggle through this makes me laugh and cringe all at once:

“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:33-35

Here they are, in the company of Jesus, traveling the long road with Him as He performs miracles and begins to reveal what is coming next – and they are arguing about which one of them was or would be the greatest. Lord have mercy. Literally.

Who had the best argument I wonder? John? Peter? Judas even? Jesus waits until they enter a house and then asks them “oh, by the way, what was all that arguing about?” Crickets.

I imagine how I am when my boys argue over something so ridiculous it just takes all my energy not to throw up my hands and leave the room. Jesus being Jesus, He sits down and has to explain a few things to them. Humility 101.

He has no favorites. When left to our own devices we are all kind of a selfish mess, wondering about being the greatest or the most (fill in the blank). There’s always someone better, and none of us are sufficient. What a relief that instead of living under condemnation, we can just go all-in with Jesus and thrive where He takes us.

Through abiding, we live. Through humility, we thrive.

Lord help us let go of the idea that we can ever be ‘enough’ and let us see the greater purpose that You have in using our insufficiency to glorify You. 🙌🏼

Life Is Too Short For Chess Games

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I saw an Instagram post yesterday with a framed picture by a fireplace that read very simply “Fidelity to the Word of God and not to an outcome.”

The quote under it, from author Lore Ferguson Wilbert stuck with me all day:

“I made it as a reminder for us and those who cross the threshold of our home. We don’t play chess with our lives, making the most strategic, financially savvy, career-making, and good for mostly us decisions. We walk by the words of scripture, the Living Water, and the book of Life. Nothing else trumps the word of God.”

The chess thing really struck me for some reason, perhaps because my 10 year old recently taught me how to play and I’m really bad at it. There’s a purpose and an end game to every single move you make. You need to not only watch what you’re planning, but what your opponent is cooking up. There’s short-term tactics and long term strategy. You gather information and store it up. It’s fascinating, but can be mentally exhausting.

Like a giant game of chess, many people are just out to make the “good for mostly us” kind of decisions. We’ve been conditioned to make moves based on where it’s going to land us on the board. Life has taken on the appearance of a giant competition, and seemingly those who know the game are the ones getting ahead.

Of course, we are given brains and logic by God Himself to make wise decisions about our lives. We aren’t robots and we aren’t cave people. Life requires all kinds of judgments on our part to keep moving, and naturally we want to do what is right for ourselves and families.

If you’ve walked with Jesus for any amount of time you’ve probably come to realize this truth: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. ” Isaiah 55:8-9

I think we often read this and think “oh well, God knows best, que sera sera… whatever will be will be.” That’s flying blind and I don’t think that’s what He intends for us. Once we understand that instinctively our thoughts don’t always match up with His, (we have this thing called flesh, it has a tendency to get in the way a lot) we can also see that that’s not the stopping point. His thoughts and ways are higher (better) than ours. Not unattainable, just something greater to which He desires to reveal to us.

Paul tells us that we have the MIND OF CHRIST (1 Corinthians 2:16), therefore we can be a part of these ‘thoughts and ways’ if we are surrendered to Him. When we have the mind of Christ, we desire what He desires. It’s naturally going to be the best thing for us, but we aren’t stuck in the prison of self-serving, self-promoting strategic chess playing with our decisions.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death…” Proverbs 14:12

So much of it is a trap. You fight for something that in the end doesn’t satisfy, you burn bridges to get ahead when it only leaves you isolated and alone. We’ve all had our well-laid plans derailed and seen how in the end, God’s way was far better.

I don’t think we serve a God of chaos who just throws random circumstances at us willy-nilly to see if we’ll choose the right door, like some cosmic game of Lets Make a Deal. I actually think we often create our own chaos by not putting His precepts first. We could save ourselves a lot of confusion and heartache by doing what that little sign by the fireplace said. Focus on God, not the outcome. He has that part handled. When we make the Word of God our dwelling place, not just our drive-through, we actually enjoy just being with Him in the process. We attain the mind of Christ and His thoughts and ways. We can relax and not obsess over all the next moves, because God will reveal them to us.

The “good for mostly us” kind of lifestyle has left behind a trail of chaos in it’s wake. It trickles down from bosses to employees, friend to friend, parents to children. Have you seen any little league or kids sports lately? Just last week I saw an 11 year old get caught cheating and his response was “if you don’t cheat a little sometimes, you’ll never win.” I’d rather lose with my integrity intact, thank you very much. The point is, when we let God’s Words slip through the cracks in any area, we become a slave to self-centered positioning. It’s the natural progression everything will take if we take our eyes off Jesus, and it will always lead to an empty, unfulfilled, chasing-our-own-tail kind of life. I think God honors humility, not strategic moves.

Life is too short to be playing chess all day. We can’t see four moves ahead, and I think that’s not a bad thing. When we yell “Jesus take the wheel!” we actually should mean what we say. We don’t totally check out, but we do need to allow Him to show us the direction to go. We don’t have to be swindlers to pull ahead in life, quite the opposite actually.

Lord, may we delight in Your Words to us and desire to put them before any outcome we may desire. May we not obsess over attaining a position, but be humble in where we are placed and wait on You to promote us the right way.

Find something that reminds you and those you love of this truth: in this house, in this life, we put God’s ways above the ways of the world. We may lose position sometimes, but we will also gain it back, in unimaginable ways. Let Jesus be one who moves you around the board, let Him decide what gets sacrificed and what stays. He’s the outcome, He’s our end game. Fix your eyes on Him and watch as the rest flawlessly falls into place.

 

A Teachable Spirit

From Andrew Murray, Daily Experience With God

“Why is it that, with Christ as our teacher, there is so much failure and so little real growth in spiritual knowledge? Why is there so much hearing and reading of the Bible, so much profession of faith in it as our only rule of life, and yet such a lack of manifestation of its spirit and its power?
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) Many have taken Christ as savior, but not as teacher. They have put their trust in Him as the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, but they know little about following the Lamb or receiving from Him the lamb nature.
This teachable spirit that refuses to know or do anything on its own wisdom is to be the spirit of our whole life, every day and all day long. It is said of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, “He shall teach you all things” (John 14:26). If His whole life and work in us is a divine teaching, then we must have this teachable spirit within us.”

Sometimes we need to unlearn the wrong things in order to learn the right ones. His yoke is so easy once we humble ourselves and submit to His way of teaching us. May we listen in the morning to the voice that calls us saying “learn of Me and find rest for your souls.”

It’s ALL Spiritual

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This is such a difficult day. Remembering the events of 13 years ago like they were both an eternity ago and yet some of it feels like yesterday.

I’m finding this to be a frustrating day as well. Frustrated at where we are at. Starving for leadership and a way past all this darkness that has in no uncertain terms, declared war on us simply for being the light.

The feeling that I want someone to stand up for us is overwhelming me today. I want someone to call it for what it is and do something about it. Recognize the enemy. Go after them.

But the opposite happens. It seems like it will continue to happen. It’s confusing and maddening.

God is patient when we’re all stirred up, He listened to me all morning rant about injustice and stupidity and evil. Then I went to the mailbox and found something I had almost forgotten about. A necklace I ordered weeks ago. It was kind of an impulse buy – proceeds went to a charity, it was cute, there was a coupon… you know how it goes. So I pulled it out and read the inscription: Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. And I felt it in a different way than ever before.

“When you see only injustice…” Act justly.

“When none show mercy…” Love mercy.

“When pride is all around…” Walk humbly.

This is hard for me today. It does’t exactly flow happily through my spirit the way it did when I bought it online. Actually doing this is difficult.

Then He took me to Ephesians for another reminder that is sometimes hard to swallow.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 6:12)

When all my anger is focused on what I can see (politicians, world events, snarky comments by others to name a few) I am missing the truth and struggling in vain. The real enemy behind all this is much bigger than any one person or group.

Without getting into all the political details… believe me this is difficult… let me just say this: we have failed to see or speak the truth about our enemy. It’s either through ignorance or on purpose, and I don’t know which is worse. God reminded me today that it’s more important than ever to speak the truth about our unseen enemy. He has declared war on us in every way and wants nothing more than to steal, kill and destroy. Pretending he isn’t there doesn’t make us any safer, it actually puts us in more danger. Ignorance leads to defeat. We are not to be ignorant of our enemy. I’m ready to roll. Bring it. Put on the full armor of God and lets do this.

Oh but there’s that Micah 6:8 verse… love, mercy and humility and all that.

I don’t feel loving today. I feel injustice piling up faster than we can shovel it away. I don’t feel very humble either. We’re right, they’re wrong. The mercy rule isn’t at the top of my list right now either. I watched the Karate Kid last night on TV and can’t help running that awful dojo teachers words through my head, “We do not train to be merciful here, mercy is for the weak!!”  Ugh. Lame.

God reminds me that while I long for earthly justice, He is eternally just. He steps in for us and defends us when others won’t. My longing for leadership brings me to the feet of Jesus, the leader and author of my life. I can’t live by the ‘no mercy’ rule because He had mercy on me. He will bring it to pass. It may be a rough ride, but He is faithful to us.

So on this day and in this age when injustice seems to rule over us… I am reminded that I am connected to the source of justice itself. A God that will stand up for me and lead in ways no earthly person ever could. He will defend us when others won’t. He knows our enemy and is able to defeat him. And though it’s hard to remember, it’s ALL spiritual.