Jesus taught what it means to follow him. It means saying “no” to our own ideas and walking with him. Not second guessing his plan. Not explaining why we prefer our way to his. It means yielding decisions and desires to him. Why? Because he knows what we need better than we do:
We want sunshine every day. God knows the earth needs rain, snow, and even a good lightning storm once in awhile.
We want trouble-free lives for our children. God uses troubles to mold them and draw them to him, just as he does with us.
We want everyone to like us. God wants obedience, boldness, and holiness over acclaim.
We want good health. God wants us to realize our frailty, our dependence on him. Maybe he allows failure in our bodies to help us share in his sufferings.
We want everyone to live at peace. He reminds us that he knew his coming to earth would create division, but he came anyway.
Yielding to God is not fatalistic. It’s following as his disciples did: walking with him wherever he led, stopping when he stopped, listening when he taught, and doing what he asked. It’s trusting his understanding and his intentions. Leaning in. Living confidently. Listening for his whispers. Following with anticipation. His way is better than my way every time!
“In all his acts God orders all things, whether good or evil, for the good of those who know him and seek him and who strive to bring their own freedom under obedience to his divine purpose. “ – Thomas Merton
I recently read Paul’s recitation of his immaculate pedigree as a passionate follower of God through Judaism. When he became a Christian, his new understanding made him realize he’d been trusting in his own goodness and zeal to earn God’s favor. After his encounter with Jesus, he understood that none of his efforts earned him any gold stars from God. Instead, God’s favor was gained by putting his trust in Christ, not himself. A commentator on Paul said, “It takes humility to trust.”
I began to think about ways in which pride can block our ability to trust God. Maybe it’s because humility means . . .
acknowledging our own helplessness to change a situation.
realizing that only God can see the future so knows best what to do for us and others.
giving up control.
accepting that what God chooses might hurt us for a time, but a greater purpose will be accomplished, even in our pain.
believing, even when we can’t understand, that God is who he says he is and all his words are true.
You can imagine with me why it’s hard for a proud person to do the things listed above. Our pride doesn’t like helplessness, submission, accepting the truths in God’s word without argument. If there is any pride in us, we’ll find it hard to trust God.
Are you having trouble with trust? We all do, sometimes. When that happens, we should examine ourselves and root out whatever may be prideful or self-serving. Every time we do that with sincerity, we find it easier to trust God – our faith grows and his ability to use us grows.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – Anonymous
“The Lord waits to be gracious to you . . . He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as He hears it, He answers you.” – Isaiah 38:18a and19b
God offers grace – his intervention on our behalf as a free, unearned gift. Don’t we all want that?
Naaman, Syrian military officer, (1 Kings 5) came to Elijah because he had heard Elijah could heal him of his leprosy. He was willing to ask.
Elijah tells Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan River and he would be well. The proud soldier objected. There were much better rivers in his hometown – why wash in the dirty Jordan?
His aides talked some sense into him: Elijah is not asking much, they say, why not try it? Naaman reluctantly made his way to the Jordan River and dipped in it seven times. Not surprisingly, he came out cured of his disease.
Experiencing God’s grace in our lives seems to require two things: Recognizing our need and being willing to ask. Some of us have a hard time asking for help, but God wants us to ask.
If we are proud, as Naaman was, we can find it hard to receive what God offers as a free, unearned gift. We’d rather not need God and his grace quite so much. But that is God’s way: Ask and receive. We don’t earn it. We can’t pay for it. We just receive.
What may be keeping God from showing us his grace? Maybe he’s waiting to hear our cry, to acknowledge our desperation for him.
“The best place any Christian can ever be in is to be totally destitute and totally dependent upon God, and know it.”- Alan Redpath
If you were coming to my house for dinner, I’d clean my house, have good food cooking, and shake out the welcome mat. I’d want everything to be ready when you rang my doorbell.
Maybe those were some of the desires John the Baptist had when he began his public preaching. What was his message? Jesus is coming, clear the way. Get ready. Prepare for him. He wasn’t talking about cooking food or cleaning house. He was talking about spiritual preparation – getting ready to meet Jesus face-to-face.
Too often we have a casual attitude about God. We rush into his presence, present our list of needs, then leave wondering if we were even heard. Maybe we need some of the heart preparation John was talking about. He told the people to prepare the way for God’s Son by cleaning up their lives, by being honest and grace-filled in their relationships, and by not putting themselves first, but giving others preference. (Luke 3:10-14).
Does your spiriual life need a boost? Do you want Jesus to come to you in a new and fresh way? Are you ready for him to respond to your prayers? God’s Word tells us how: Prepare the way by humbly confessing sin and living in ways that please him. We may need to examine our attitudes, priorities, relationships, thoughts, and actions to see if there’s any rubble we need to get out of the way so the path is cleared for Jesus to relate to us in his fullness. And he will.
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight . . . and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (from Luke 3:4-6)
“Certainly all virtues are very dear to God, but humility pleases Him above all the others, and it seems that He can refuse it nothing.” ― Francis de Sales