Friday, December 24, 2010

Humble Things

A part of a prayer that Jesus prayed while He was on Earth in the flesh reads like this:

"I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants." (Matthew 11:25)

In another place we are told that "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

God values things differently than we do. The things that we see as being the humblest or the most useless may be the very things He is planning to use for His glory. He tells us that we must be like children in order to enter into His kingdom (Mark 10:13-16). Yet we worry about silly things such as our dignity, our reputation, whether or not we appear strong and wise to others.

In this season of giving, what is the best gift? The biggest one? The one that cost the most money? The one most likely to impress the recipient with the generosity of the giver?

The greatest gift of all was another mouth to feed for a poor family. The greatest gift of all was bought by the pain of a woman in labor and the obedience of a Son to be humbled as a human baby. That obedience would later lead Him to pay the greatest Cost in a painful and humiliating death. The greatest gift of all was given entirely with the recipients in mind, without regard to the Cost to the Giver.

We try to make it all so complicated with our guilt and selfishness and worldly minds. What does Jesus want from us except to follow Him? What does God want from us except to love Him and to love our neighbor? What does He want from us except our love, our obedience, our trust, our selves? What does He want to give us but His love and His best?

This Christmas, may you and your family be given to God and may all be blessed by it. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Letting Go

Here's something I've been thinking about for awhile, for all you fellow control freaks out there.

Is there something in your life that you've been frustrating yourself about, beating your head against the proverbial brick wall, futilely trying to "fix"? Is it something that you actually can make happen through perseverance, effort, and skill, or are you pitting yourself against something that you can't actually do anything about?

Have you been frequently unnecessarily angry, annoyed, and frustrated with yourself and those around you without a readily apparent reason? Do you know why? Is there something specific eating you, such as bad news or a difficult task, or are you stressed about the fact that you aren't in complete control of your life and you can't make everything perfect?

Yes, I'm describing myself. Here's a line I wrote in a conversation with my mom: sometimes we should give up on things that are not going to work.

Example: due in part to a childhood obsession with the book Melisande, by E. Nesbit, I've always wanted to have really long hair. I mean really long hair; waist length, for sure, if I could have more I might want more. For years I've been in the process of attempting to grow thick, healthily-looking waist-length hair. It's not going to happen for me, though; everybody's hair has a certain point past which it will not grow and still be full and healthy, and mine is only a little below my shoulders. Boo hoo! So, I finally gave up and cut it above my shoulders, declaring that, okay, I was never going to have lovely waist-length hair, and therefore I needed to figure out something that I could do that I would like. Now, I think that was one of the best decisions I've ever made; it looks nice, it's ridiculously more convenient, and I'm finally content with the hair that I have!

Now, if only I would start applying that in other areas of my life . . .

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Sometimes the pace of life is too fast. Sometimes all that needs to be done in what seems like so little time is overwhelming, sometimes even friends and fun and a busy cafeteria all seem like so much extra noise. Peace is something that I often find hard to come by, and I think sometimes, finding it again is as simple as being still and quiet until my thoughts and feelings have had time to settle themselves.

Be still, and know that He is God. Do I think that I don't have time to pray? It's always a lie. Do I have time to talk to my friends? Do I have time to listen to my teachers? Do I have time to check my e-mail? Then I have time to pray. If the voice of God is still and small, then I need to be still to hear it. I need to take the time to be still.

Trusting in God, truly trusting in Him by being at peace with where He has me right now, is hard for me. My internal panic button can be hit very easily sometimes. Is there something I can do to change that? I think so. I think taking the time to be with Him and remember Who He is regularly could be one of the smartest things I could do.

I've been a Christian all my life, even a Christian of the reading the Bible every day type all my life. But there's a difference between a five-minute rush through a chapter (not that that's not worth something!) and actually taking the time to be still in the presence of God, to tell Him what's on my mind, to pay attention to what I read in His Word. Occasionally, I have a spurt where I do take that time regularly, and it helps so much. I seem to take a long time to learn my lesson.

Something from the Word:

Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

James 4:5-10

ps a note on the part in those verses about being miserable and so on: in the context, it is clear that this is written towards people who are having a problem with worldliness, lust, envy, etc. In other words, these are instructions to a particular group of people at a particular time and should not be applied unless applicable. It should be noted that there are other verses in the Bible that tell Christians to rejoice.