In my youth, I did not place much value on humility! It seemed a virtue of the weak, a choice of last resort. The young and inexperienced often believe that they know and understand much more than they do. They can, and many do, live with the illusion that life can be mastered, the world directed, and outcomes neatly predicted. In some ways their self-confidence is a gift. If they knew the difficulties inherent in most human enterprise, they might never allow themselves to love, to try to create a better world, or to build new communities. With experience our limitations become clear. Most of us taste failure in one way or another, go through the sorrow of a failed relationship, and encounter sickness and/or death up close. What then?
Will we become tired old cynics, loudly protesting the supposed emptiness of life? After a life filled with ‘accomplishment’ – money, fame, power, and pleasure – Solomon complains bitterly that it is all “Smoke, nothing but smoke. There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke. What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? One generation goes its way, the next one arrives, but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old planet earth. The sun comes up and the sun goes down, then does it again, and again—the same old round.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-5, The Message)
OR, will we let the battering soften us, break our pride, and carry us to an total dependence on the love of our Father? Paul, once known as the proud, self-sufficient Pharisee, came to Christ to find a life that many of us would reject. He speaks often of his suffering- rejection, persecution, shipwreck, and imprisonment – honestly. Paul realized that suffering allowed him to be identified with Christ. He rejoiced in it as his pride crumbled and the Lord became his treasure and hope. Contrast his response to life with that of Solomon who enjoyed such privilege. Paul writes, Do not “be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:13-20, NIV)
The last six years for me have included many sorrows. My father sickened with cancer and his life ebbed away for the next 14 months. My mother was diagnosed with cancer a year after his death and slipped away over the next year. My own health was challenged seriously during this time, though I am presently healthy, for which I am glad! Bev and I made some major life adjustments to answer the Lord’s call to our family and our subsequent experience was one of failure, disappointment, and rejection; an exceeding painful thing to me to this moment. And, then, last year Bev, my wife, became ill and we have lived with hospitals, doctors, weakness, and sorrow. Ours has not been a mountaintop experience – to all outward appearance. But, truly God has revealed more of Himself and He has led me nearer to Himself. For that I am thankful, strange as that may sound to some.
I can say, with Paul, ‘when I am weak, then I am strong.’ The illusions of mastery are long gone; I am in the hands of my God. I refuse to rail on Him for the ‘unfairness’ of it all though I am tempted by that response sometimes. I look to Job who did not sugarcoat his suffering, who wrestled to understand, but who kept talking to God! And, in the end, though the Lord never explained what He had allowed, He revealed His majesty and Job was both humbled and comforted. “Without humility there can be no true abiding in God’s presence or experience of His favor and the power of His Spirit. Without it there can be no abiding faith or love or joy or strength.” (Andrew Murray)
Kneel before the Throne of God.
Learn to listen to Him and to others. There is great grace to be found.
Here is the word from the Word.
“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2, NLT)
“But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12, NLT)
“He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6, NLT)
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sov’reign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
Joel Houston | Matt Crocker | Salomon Ligthelm
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