It’s late and I’m overtired. And it’s probably making me emotional, or, more likely, bringing forward the thoughts that the busyness of my life and mind disguise and filter. Either way, this is the situation I’m in, and this is what I’m feeling.
One morning five years ago, I heard a group lead worship in my alma mater. It was CTI – Carpenter’s Tools International. You can read more about them here. They are a missions organization that sends musicians around the country and the world to use their gifts to share the gospel. And when I found out I could join, I wanted to. But because of where I was in my life – high school, then college – I couldn’t. Then this last year I graduated. I was reminded of CTI and was encouraged to join – so I did. I leave in July.
This experience with CTI that I have looked forward to for the past five years has been nothing that I expected or envisioned. And I’m not saying this in a blissful, sentimental way. This is my selfish, prideful heart talking here. Hear me out.
I applied for the year long trip. I’m being sent on the summer one.
I thought Singapore was a possibility, and it’s where I wanted to go. I’m not going to Singapore.
I applied as a vocalist. CTI asked if I could try as a guitarist because there was need. I’m self taught and not as thrilled about guitar, but the Lord convicted me that I should offer myself where needed, not wanted. So I sent in auditions, saying that I would accept where God put me, but kind of hoping He would see my “offering” and give me what I wanted.
I have been officially switched to guitar.
On Monday, I find out if I go to Hong Kong or Guatemala. My preference is Hong Kong. So I’m expecting Guatemala.
This is not the attitude I should have. But in my past, from my perspective, when I’ve asked God for a want, He’s given me the exact opposite the majority of the time. There have been particular times where I’ve begged, in tears, for a result, and was denied it. And I’m ashamed to admit it got to a point where I simply wouldn’t come boldly before the throne anymore, asking for things. On one end, it was good. I adopted an attitude of “Your will be done. It is in Your hands.” But on the other? The thought would continue. “It is in Your hands… So, honestly, I’m prepared for the worst.” There was even a time where I simply gave up coming before the throne altogether.
Part of me was – okay, is – angry with God. Angry because I’m not getting a simple thing that I want. Angry because I feel I have to be perfect to earn His favor. Angry because it’s impossible to have perfect motives, and it seems that God will only honor perfect motives. Angry because He allowed my experiences to lead me to this perspective of who He is.
My totally honest, raw, unfiltered heart?
God, I’m just fed up. And my limited, human patience – that You are perfectly aware of – has run out.
This is a post about humility. And, as I’m writing this, I literally just remembered a few months ago when I recognized pride in myself and prayed, “God, make me humble,” followed by, “I know I’ll regret this later.”
When I get to these points of being done with God, how do I face it? Maybe you’ve been here, too. How do you face it? How do you, by the power and grace of Christ alone, attack it head on like the Christian warrior you are made to be?
Pride. Oh, Pride, how elusive and clever you are. Even writing this now I struggle with pride in my coming to humility.
Humility is an elusive virtue. The more we pursue it – and the more we seem to acquire it – the more we take pride in our accomplishment, and we find ourselves back at square one. – Mike Aquilina
Which reminds me of another quote on the subject:
Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less. – C.S. Lewis
Think less of myself.
Think more of God.
For who am I?
I am a prideful, selfish, yet wonderfully made, individual, fallen, saved creature.
And I will cut that down to the keyword there – I am a creature. The created. Not the Creator. And yet… Here I am. Chosen, loved, adorned, redeemed, eternal.
And I think of Job. Yes, we all know him as the one who suffered. And I have looked at his life during the most tumultuous seasons for that reason, but that is not why I bring him up now. Often unmentioned is his pride. Yes, his pride! How he questioned God, and though served Him outwardly, his heart grew bitter. It took a younger friend to remind him of who God truly is, and then God Himself speaks:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:1, 3-7 ESV)
Whoa. And it continues. For three more chapters. You want to talk reasonable, complete, infallible arguments, my blackened heart, swollen with pride? God has plenty. And my only answer can be as Job:
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:4-5 ESV)
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. (Job 42:2-3 ESV)
The Lord is working things too wonderful for me. My viewpoint is through a peephole traveling through an endless, lush land. I see but a fraction of the whole picture that God has orchestrated for His glory. And my momentary unhappiness is not worth comparing to that glory that is promised me for eternity. (II Corinthians 4:17)
And coming to this conclusion yet again reminds me: the lesson of humility that I hate most to learn, is the very one that, when finally received, gives me the most peace. So Lord… Give me Your mercy. Give me Your grace. And give me humility. Let my eyes be not on myself, whether it be in obstinate pride or false humility. But let them be fixed on You.
This post resonates with me. I’ve been there, and part of me will always be there because I’m human. When things haven’t gone “my way,” my first response, despite the fact that it is contrary to everything I know about His nature, has been that God must be punishing me for some sin. A few weeks ago, I also reread the story of Job. Job was tested not because of his sin, but because of his faithfulness. God allowed Job to be tested because He wanted to show that Job would be faithful to his Creator despite his circumstances. This was an eye-opener for me. God always answers prayers in one of three ways:
1) Yes! *insert happy dance here.* Thanks God!
2) No! As I have to remind myself 100 times/day (conservative estimate), His “no” is not a rejection! His “no” is not a rejection! (See, I repeat this a lot.) It’s a redirection. As you mentioned in your post, He sees what we don’t see. We may think this is what we need, but He will wreck our plans when He knows that they will wreck us.
3) Not yet! Even a flower that is flourishing will die if it is prematurely placed in too large a pot. In my life, I have seen God use these waiting times to make sure my roots are secure and I am growing in the right direction.