Death to Pride

Well, howdy. It’s been a long time. I dare say eons. I’ve been gone for many reasons, but it all boils down to one. An excuse, really. Fear.

Fear of unfulfilled promises. Fear of unanswered prayers. Fear of failing. Fear of giving up. Fear that I’ve been going in the wrong direction and somehow didn’t have a clue. Fear that nothing is turning out the way I planned or intended.

Like most of you, I had my life all mapped out. Or so I thought. In my little boat called Pride, which ironically only comes with one oar. And for those who are marine minded, you know that paddling a boat with one oar will only move you in circles. Maddening circles.

Here you are putting in all this effort, burning nine million calories, and you’ve gone nowhere. But in certain seasons, that’s what life can be like. And what’s even more maddening is that God will allow you to paddle in circles for a while.

He’ll even sit in the doggone boat with you. He’ll offer you an extra oar. Offer to help paddle – with the extra oar. Offer to take over so that you can rest. Offer to put a motor on the thing so you don’t have to move a muscle. And your response every time: “Nah, I got it.” With your one oar and a hint of agitation.

And then you look up and realize that the shore, and you, have remained stagnant. Moving exactly nowhere. And that realization can be both a fearful and humbling epiphany.

You suddenly comprehend that in order to move forward, you have to let go. Not just of assumptions or expectations of what you thought life would be like. But you also have to relinquish control.

But what no one tells you is that in order to lose control, something has to die. And that something is usually you. Your ways, your thoughts, your preconceived notions, your one-way prayers, your ego, and all those beautifully mapped out plans.

This process of death smothered my pride, and rather than feeling free I felt stifled. I wanted what I wanted, and watching my own desires die threatened to kill the faith I thought was so indestructible. Because when the plans you’ve made for yourself fail, it can alter how you perceive the love of Christ – even if He’s not the one who made them.

Despite how clearly I can see my hand instead of His in hindsight, when you’re in the midst of heavenly anger and doubt, pride never points the finger back at itself. But God never minds your pointing the finger at Him. Because acknowledging His presence, even in anger and frustration, leaves you open to His love.

I usually close these things with something super uplifting and happy. But this story isn’t over yet. I have yet to reach the other side of my anger and frustration. I’ve yet to really hand over control, even though I know the illusion of freedom it can create. But I know it’s coming.

When I get to the other side, I’ll write something cute and corny then. My hope is not crushed and Jesus still sits on the throne. So there’s that ūüėČ

Until next time (and hopefully not months from now)!

Roz

Slim Pickings

“When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. ¬†Abel also brought a gift – the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. ‘Why are you so angry?’ the Lord asked Cain. ‘Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master’.” Genesis 4:3-7

the-book-of-genesis-kjv-chapter-1
Genesis – The First Book of Morgan Freeman Moses

Have you ever¬†really read Genesis? ¬†I mean like really¬†read¬†Genesis. If you haven’t, maybe it’s because you can’t stand that fact that Morgan Freeman’s voice so perfectly narrates that opening line of “In the beginning….” ¬†Maybe you doubt the story of creation. ¬†Maybe you’re like me and think the most fun parts of a book are in the middle.

Well, recently I decided to read Genesis again.  I mean like really read it.  As in read it multiple times in a row in the same week.  Some parts were boring. Like those verses where everyone begat everyone else. Other parts were Jackie Chan action packed and chock full of wisdom nuggets, like the verses written above.

Moving on…

With our lives and the world being so ‘busy’ nowadays, we can be caught up in giving God our ‘slim pickings.’ For you non-Southerners that means ‘not your best’ or ‘the leftovers.’

He gets the quick prayer right before I go to bed. ¬†The scroll through my¬†Bible app like I’m swiping through creepers on Tinder (and I can’t speed read). The passing thought as I go through my day – “Oh, hey¬†God. It’s me. ¬†Whaddup.” ¬†I’ve even calculated how little I can tithe to be able to afford something else incredibly less awesome – and less free – than his grace.

Then I somehow still expect God to bless me, hear my measly prayers, and have the audacity to question his existence when I get the silent treatment (even though I wasn’t listening in the first place). But if I’m not seeking him without abandon, leaving nothing, why would I be angry if he didn’t do anything else for me?

Now out of his incredible grace and mercy we should all be wiping our sweaty little¬†foreheads that this isn’t and hasn’t been the case. ¬†God moving his pinkie finger in my little life is more than you or I could do in a million years. But that doesn’t mean we give him pinkie finger efforts in return. God wants our best, expects our best, and loves us through the inconvenience pain extremely great circumstances that require our best.

And then something strange happens. ¬†I’ve found that when I go above and beyond the slim pickings, when I stretch my faith muscles outside of my comfortable, little Christian bubble, I experience more joy. More pleasure. More peace. ¬†Not more stress, less money in the bank, or less¬†time with framily (my friends are family – framily – which I guess makes them frams?).

I digress.

You see, God doesn’t need me. ¬†He doesn’t need my prayers or my tithes or my woeful attempts to keep him first. ¬†He can accomplish what he needs to accomplish without me. ¬†I mean, he’s God. But I need him and he wants me.

So give your all and watch how you become one of those annoying ‘glass half full’ people. ¬†After all, the cup that runneth over with God’s love leaves little room for the enemy. ¬†Stay thirsty, my friends.

“If you sin, how does that affect God? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds also affect only humans.” Job 35:6-8

“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6

“…I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24