Saturday, January 23, 2010
...it can be a long way down!
The preacher at the church I attend has spent the past few Sunday's speaking about humility. It has made me recall my own experience with praying for humility. First, let me say that I had been told a number of times by those wiser than myself never to pray for humility "unless you really mean it." But I was too proud, too sure of myself, to listen to that very wise advise. After all, an answer to the prayer would just be that God would either grant me humility or He would not. Right? I foolishly did not take into account the manner in which God might grant me humility.
A few summers ago, I was in a position that I felt could make me possibly to become quite cocky about myself. My work was doing well. It had gotten some attention and some decent sales. I was scheduled to teach at the national fiber conference, Convergence, in the summer. During that conference my work would be shown in a number of exhibits in the area, including one which I had guest-curated for an area Fine Art Center. Realizing that this was a moment in which Pride could rear it's ugly head in my life, I offered up sincere prayers that God would grant me humility during that time.
As the conference and exhibit time drew closer, I became increasingly aware of a sharp pain in my mid-right back. I'd been doing a lot of yard and garden work, so I attributed it to that. I began to baby my back, hoping the pain would ease up before my important trip, but it only got worse. I went to my doctor, who prescribed pain medication, but it didn't seem to help at all. I continued to hope that the pain would abate before the conference. It did not.
While I was at the conference, I had no feelings of Pride at all. My over-riding prayer was "Lord, just get me through this week!" Everything I did there was done while enduring the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life (and I have had two children.) Between teaching and attending exhibits and giving gallery talks, I would go into a bathroom and cry in pain. I called my doctor and begged for a stronger medication, but because I was away from home, she could not prescribe anything. I didn't have the time to go to an Emergency Room, which was what my doctor had recommended. I had driven to the conference with a friend, and I begged her to drive us home in my car, a 5 hour trip over the mountains, as I couldn't drive in the pain I was having or on the medications I was taking which were supposed to help, but didn't.
When I got home, I went to bed for a week. Even flat on my back, the pain wouldn't ease up, no matter what heavy-duty drug I was taking. I went to a chiropractor, who nearly killed me. X-rays were taken. Finally, a physical therapist discovered that one of my ribs had misaligned, causing it to catch underneath another rib and get caught there. She was able, after several sessions, to ease it back into place. That place in my back is still a 'tender area' that I coddle a bit. It is a physical reminder of God's answer to my request for humility. I had not one cocky or prideful thought during that summer's events.
I now find myself giving the advise to "be sure you really want humility before you pray for it." God doesn't mess around with a prayer like that. He knows just what it will take to bring us to our knees, and can quite effectively cause that fall that "Pride goeth before."
Monday, January 18, 2010
There are so many frightening things being done in the world today in the name of religion. Religion is the way we are tied back to God, and many people have ideas about how this is to be done. But I believe there is a simple test to know what is truly of God and what is not. True religion, that which is Godly and God sanctioned, is that which is filled with love and compassion and that which acts as if there is a basic holiness permeating things and people. Those who practice such religion live creatively and do not try to force others into tiny rules and boxes, into their own politics and laws, for all of those things were done away with with Christ's sacrifice. (Book of Galations) Any hatred served up in the name of religion is just hatred. God is love, not hate.
Setting God's agenda for Him, and trying to 'do His work' for Him is far from what He has asked us to do. He has asked us to accept and live in what He has done for us, and is willing to continue doing. These people scare me. They claim to speak for God but there is no Godly love in them.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is Love. 1 John 4:8