Writing about gratitude last week leads me now to humility, the true reduction of our ego-importance to the reality of who we are before God. When we think that human beings are but one of an estimated 7 million species on this earth, and that this earth is but one planet in a vast universe of billions of billions of planets. And that God created this vast immeasurable system. Maybe now we begin to see our stature in the vast scheme of things.
If that weren’t enough to humble us, each of us is just one of 7.4 billion men and women and children on earth. And even in this United States, we are each only one of 325,000,000 Americans as of May 27, 2017. Feeling small yet? It’s easy to find these statistics on the internet.
Like a grain of sand on the beach we number millions and billions and yet there is God caring about each and every one of us, loving us, counting the hairs on each head [Matthew 10:30], and forgiving us as well. And if we actually are willing to go where God would take us, back to how he created each of us to be—our gifts and talents, plus all that we have gained from our experiences living on this earth. He would take us back to our created selves without the cultural overlay, away from the pain and suffering, from the good times and bad, from the challenges and the easy things. God, the God who created this vast system of stars and planets and us as well, wants us to live to the fullness of who He created us to be. He wants us in his arms, willing to go where He would take us, giving out his love as He has given it to us, pouring out his forgiveness and mercy as He poured it out to us.
So we live in this universe on this planet knowing that we are like a speck of sand and yet God needs us to help bring about his kingdom on this earth. So often I think, why me? I am a very ordinary woman from a middle-class family. I see this reflected in my readers’ comments, too, like this one, “How did I get to see Jesus standing over my husband in the hospital, healing him?” God’s choices are not about who we are or what we’ve done or whether we deserve his grace at all. God’s choices are about his plan, how we would fit into it and what He has designed us to do. He needs to know how willing we are to go where he leads us, how willing we are to obey his suggestions, how willing we are to leave our own ideas about life behind and adopt his.
To be truly humble is not a cloak we put on over our ego-centricity to hide our self-centeredness. It is a natural reaction to the largesse and the magnificence of God and the smallness of us. It comes from acknowledging that God is the creator of this immense universe and that we are standing before him in awe and wonder, not having to understand God, but only having to love him with all of who we are. It comes from knowing that when we control our lives, they are a mess, or maybe we are so successful in the world that we are left longing for much, much more. Humility recognizes the poverty of our own responses versus the dynamic request from God that leaves us breathless at his vision for us.
A humble person doesn’t expect to understand God or to conquer the Ultimate Mystery that He is. He only wants to be in his presence. She wants to be so much more present to God and to the life she have been given. In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we yoke ourselves to the One who is gentle and humble, we slip into that same way of being before God. To be chosen by God is not in any way a plus for our egos, calling attention to ourselves. To be yoked to God, to be totally his, means that everything we do and say points to God, not to ourselves.
If we try to use our closeness to God to elevate ourselves, we will be humbled. Three times in the Gospels this is stated: in Matthew 23:12, Luke 14:11, and Luke 18:14. There is nothing in our life in God that would exalt us. We are living a lie if we think that God’s attention to us is supposed to promote our stature in the church or in the world. And I would bet that when we promote ourselves, we are lying about the extent of the closeness we have with God. Each step closer to God is a step that lets go the ego-centeredness that is rampant on earth. Each step closer to God is a giant step towards humility, because God is healing and transforming our nature as we demonstrate our willingness to be his servants, to be obedient, to be humbled before his great majesty.
True humility reveals our lack of importance in the scheme of Creation, our true size before God, but also how blessed we are to stand in God’s love and forgiveness and mercy and to be wanted and needed by him. Thanks be to God!
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I stand in awe before God? Am I humble or do I use my relationship with God to promote myself? Am I really willing to let God lead me wherever He wants me to go and to do whatever He wants me to do? Is God in charge of me or is my ego still running the show? Is my conversion to God’s ways superficial or deep?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who walk humbly in Jesus’ footprints. May we stand in awe before God and all that He is. May we follow God wherever He would lead us.
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