Sunday, June 24, 2012

Adventures in Wonderland, #5

What Humility is NOT.

I’d just written last week’s blog, and put it to bed, when I read the following verse in my morning devotions:

Proud, Haughty, Scoffer are his names, who acts with insolent pride (Proverbs 21:24, NASB).  Another translation renders it this way:  Show me a conceited person, and I will show you someone who is arrogant, proud, and inconsiderate (GNT).

That’s a heap of noun-verbiage.  Each word critical to describing what won’t help us get through the door to experience the adventure in Wonderland.  That made each word worth examination.

In Larry Crabb’s book, Sixty-six Love Letters, God says this about the book of Proverbs:  “As you read Proverbs, expect to feel the shame of exposure.  Many of your ways are foolish.  Expect, too, to feel the appeal of wisdom.  God has given us a heart that wants to walk the narrow road.”

Sometimes, I fear my foolishness is completely bound and tangled up within my heart, especially when I read verses such as the above.

Here are some of the characteristics synonymous with a not-so-humble human (from Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament, Spiros Zhodiates): self-sufficient, impudent, one who “seethes,” boils over, acts proudly.  Just as water in a pot boils over, so the presumptuous, arrogant, person oversteps his boundaries.  An over-bearing, know-it-all, argumentative and contentious.  Self-sufficient.  A scoffer: one who makes a mouth at, is quick to interpret, to intercede, to mock, imitate, express utter contempt toward, to boast…

This is not a pretty picture.  This kind of charisma won’t keep God huge and me small enough to enter the door to Wonderland…

When last week’s blog ended, I wrote these words:  But, while I desire to drink humility, it can be so hard to swallow…   I want to take those words back.  When I look at the alternative, I’m much more eager to drink the liquid on the table that will get me through that little door!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Adventures in Wonderland, #4

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have refuge.  The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.
Proverbs 14:26, 27

In order for Alice to get through the door to experience Wonderland, she had to drink of the liquid that would bring the right “adjustment.”  If I want through the door to so experience the adventures of God’s Wonderland, I’ll drink, too – a smoothie blend comprised of equal amounts of humility, submission, and obedience. 

I’m not real adventurous when it comes to drinks, gotta admit.  I’m afraid I might be handed something similar to what we used to call a “Masai Milkshake.”  When we lived in Kenya, we often traveled through Masai-land.  The Masai are a proud, regal people group and still quite primitive in culture.  One of their favorite “drinks,” which they are honored to share with guests, is comprised of curdled milk mixed with cow’s blood, and served in a gourd purified with cow urine.  Mmmmm…yum! Nah, I want to know what’s mixed in my drink before I consume.

First ingredient: humility.

Sometimes, I confuse this word with another similar-looking word:  humiliate.  Correction: they are not the same.  One comes from people.  The other comes from the Lord.  One comes from those who want to belittle.  The other comes from One who wants to “lift up.”  One comes from the world’s perspective.  The other comes from the plan of an Almighty God who is named Elohim (creator).  One is a lie.  The other is truth. 

Humility.  Seeing God as He is.  Seeing myself as He made me.  Living in the connection of the two. 

Humility.  The opposite of pride and arrogance.  The opposite of self-sufficient.  The opposite of independence.  The opposite of scoffing and mocking.

Humility.  Just like Jesus. Jesus, who did nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.  Jesus, who regarded everyone else as more important than himself.  Jesus, who did not merely look out for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.  Jesus who even though he was God, gave up the right to be God, so that he could serve…even to the point of death (Philippians 2:3-9).  Jesus, gentle, but strong enough to calm the wind and waves.  Jesus, loving, but filled with enough righteousness to hate what sin was doing in man. Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life who chose shameful death…for me.

I. Want. Humility.  Just. Like. Jesus.  But, while I desire to drink humility, it can be so hard to swallow…  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Adventures in Wonderland, #3

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have refuge.  The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.
Proverbs 14:26, 27

I know (head knowledge) that all this passage promises is mine to own.  I have in my possession the key (reverent worship), which will open the door to my deepest desires.  However, like Alice in the rabbit hole, there’s a big problem.  Alice is the problem.  She’s much too large to get through the door. 

I have the same problem.  I’m too big. My “stuff” is way out of proportion.  When life becomes more about MY fears, MY insecurities, MY problems, MY anxieties, MY need to please people, then I become HUGE, and God becomes SMALL.   When I’m too big, and all I think about is my own personal drama, then, just like Alice, I can’t get through the door to discover all that awaits me in Wonderland.  I’ve literally swapped places with God.  He’s no longer big enough to handle MY STUFF.  I’m in the way of what I really want.  I’m too big and my God is too small.

What to do?  What did Alice do?  On the same table as the key, sits a liquid-filled bottle with a tag that says, “Drink me.”  Alice does, and she shrinks to the right size for the door.  The “drink” makes me think of Jesus words the night of his arrest in the Garden, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt (Matthew 26:39).”  Later the same night to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it (John 18:11)?”  The drink Jesus referred to, the cup the Father had given him, was the liquid of humility, submission, and obedience (“not my will, but yours…”).

The only answer for Alice…the only answer for myself:  To enter the Adventures of Wonderland, we must maintain a perspective of the GrEAtNeSS of God. However, to fully enter into all that’s available for us, requires humility of heart, surrender, and a willingness to obey.

Meaning, what, exactly?