As I grew in my knowledge of the bible, I started to notice a big gap between what I knew in my head and what I was really experiencing of God's love for me. I began to pray "Lord, help me know Your love for me. I want to be more like You."
I wasn't praying, "Lord, deal with my pride" but God knew that this issue - this self-righteousness and judgmental attitude - had to go. I'm very aware that God could easily have called me out for my sin - let it all be shown on a jumbo screen in some public forum. I could have been exposed like Hamen was in the book of Esther. But God didn't do that with me.
The first thing that happened after I began praying that prayer in earnest was I had to go to Africa. (more on that in another post) I saw up close what poverty and hunger and abandonment and hopelessness are. I met Christians who are living their faith in very difficult circumstances yet they radiate Christ's joy and peace. I have so much - but I deserve none of it any more than these beautiful people do. I could not imagine what I could possibly feel self-righteous about. It humbled me.
Then God directed us to leave southern California and Jeff's job as a pastor there and move to Oregon, near our parents and where our girls are attending school and living. We are not the impulsive, 'oh-well-I'm-sure-everything-will-work-out' kind of people. We're planners and we don't throw around the phrase "God told me to..." lightly. But we KNEW this was God so we packed up and moved, pretty confident that God would provide another job for Jeff in a short time. That was almost 2 years ago. It is humbling to be unemployed! We're not worried and we don't doubt at all that we are right where we're supposed to be. But it is humbling for sure.
We're living in my dad's house. That's humbling.
I've worked several temp jobs that were, well, humbling.
We are waiting on God. Waiting is humbling.
Do you sense a theme here?
God is so amazing. If we tell Him we want to be more like Him, He will do whatever it takes to get us there. That's not a prayer for sissies. It's much like praying for patience. Or for more faith. You'd better be ready to discover - through experience - just how impatient or untrusting you are.
In my case, there is a lot of pride to deal with. It's everywhere in me. And I am sick of it. It's cost me precious time of enjoying closeness with God because it's separated me from Him in ways I'm just now realizing. It's pretty hard to receive love from God if I'm living like I don't need Him - just crying out for help now and then when I can't figure things out on my own. It kills me that I've done that. But I have.
I am asking God to be brutal with me - to point out every instance of pride and help me admit it for what it is. Apply the truth to myself. Become an expert at recognizing my own sin, not anyone else's. Look for ways to take the humble route not the one that's most comfortable. I've asked Him to help me be immediately aware when I start to judge another (this habit becomes second nature) and I've pictured myself literally shoving God off His throne of judgment and climbing up onto His seat to try to take His place. That is a horrible thought but it is what I'm doing when I harbor critical thoughts.
I have really appreciated John Fischer's book 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me). I love his subtitle: Finding Grace to Live Unmasked.
I have a long ways to go but I am already experiencing a freedom and a sense of God's love that is better than anything.
I'll end what is really the beginning of my story with this quote from Fischer...
"If our witness is to show people how much we need Jesus, then our witness will of necessity have in it the components of our failures, our worries, our inadequacies, our mistakes and our sins. If we didn't have these things, we wouldn't need Jesus... Perfect people have no witness. They have nothing to give anyone. You can only give what you have received."
God, I need Your love and Your grace and Your forgiveness so I can give those same things away. Thank You for a love that overcomes my selfish pride.
This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite
in spirit and trembles at My word.