…and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,
for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
1 Peter 5:5
Do you remember the children’s story from grade school? The one about the emperor who was conned into preening down the street in what he believed were the fanciest duds ever, when in reality he was parading around in his birthday suit. Everyone around the monarch went along with the deception, except for one little boy. When that honest little guy spoke truth, the emperor’s self-deception was laid bare, and he ran away to hide.
Not too long ago, I felt as though God had cast me as the lead in an updated version of the particularly revealing saga. Not in a literal sense, mind you. My physical clothes were in place throughout the experience. But as for my spiritual duds, the ones I believed were woven of 100% humility? Well, God spoke truth and stripped them away, revealing what lay beneath layers and layers self-deception.
God’s truth exposed pride. Prideful thoughts. Prideful words. Prideful attitudes. Prideful actions. So much pride, my first desire was to run away and hide. But God made it quite clear, through the words of Hebrews 5:13, that hiding from Him is not an option. And in 1 Peter 5:5, He clearly stated what needed to be done: put on different clothes.
I wasn’t to keen on the idea of complete wardrobe change after a lifetime of struggling to unzip pride and button down humbleness…only to discover that my version of humility was 100% fake. So I argued with God. I can’t do this on my own. I’m not sure I can do it even with you leading the way. Therefore. I. Give. Up.
Having dealt with the matter, my fickle mind wandered on to less taxing, more mundane thoughts. The grocery list for Thanksgiving dinner. Hauling Christmas decorations from the attic. The column for the December newsletter. Not one hopeful writing idea came to mind until a wisp of Christmas story from the gospel of Luke wove its way into my thoughts: And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator of all things came to earth as a humble baby wrapped in humble cloths. His mother laid Him in a manger because there was no room at the inn. Why on earth did God’s Son humiliate Himself so completely? To save prideful sinners like you and me, wrapping us in His humility when we cannot clothe ourselves.
The words of a simple, children’s Christmas carol threaded their way into my consciousness.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.
I closed my eyes as hope blazed in my heart, as bright as the star over Bethlehem so long ago. Lord Jesus, I prayed, please change my clothes. Clothe me and all your children in your humility so we are fit to represent you on earth and to live with you in heaven when you call us home. Amen.
Photo Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net
For who has despised the day of small things?
As a young child, I day dreamed about becoming big things kind of girl. I had big plans for a career as either a television star or a princess. Therefore, I focused on the big things like dramatic poses and tiaras rather than little things like learning to tie my shoes. Or telling time. Or making letters like b and d point the right way. Or memorizing math facts. Eventually, my parents and teachers made life miserable until I learned convinced me to pay attention to little things.
But I remained a big things kind of girl at heart for many years. Even after I became a Christian and started reading the Bible. I preferred the big, showy stories – Moses parting the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Jesus feeding the five thousand – to hidden, quiet events like Moses in the bull rushes, Ruth gleaning grain, or the long drudgery of rebuilding the temple in Zechariah’s day.
I remained a sucker for bright lights and big things until two babies entered our home six years apart. When they arrived, life became a river of small things. Tiny fingernails to clip. Itty bitty diapers. Minuscule onesies. Little bodies asleep in my arms. The first tiny hints of toothless smiles.
Slowly, my attitude about material things began to change. The arrivals of these little people made the sacrifices – buying a minivan, sleepless nights, spit up stains ruining expensive clothes, fun money diverted for college savings accounts and day care providers – worthwhile.
My spiritual attitude began changing, too. When I bathed our babies, I imagined Mary bathing her son. Wiping his nose. Drying his tears. Hugging his small body, holding him close, caring for her little boy. I imagined Jesus, God’s Son, beginning his life as the smallest and most inconsequential of small things. A baby born in a barn. Yet that baby grew up to do big things. He lived a perfect life. He healed hurting people. He fed the five thousand. He died on a cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. All to reconcile small and petty sinners to the eternal, omnipotent God.
My children are grown. I haven’t bathed a baby in years. But as the shadow of the cross grows large in the days before Easter, my thoughts turn to the babe in the manger. The hope of a fallen world contained in a small package. The baby who guides sinners to the foot of the cross.
My God works through small things. He uses the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. He uses small things like us to demonstrate our need for the great gift of His Son. At the foot of the cross, kneeling before the manger, I am finally content with small things.
For the past week, every waking moment of my life (and this blog) has been consumed by the publication of my book. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. After all, I’ve been working toward this goal for almost four years.
But now and then, a writer needed to breathe normal air, not the heady perfume of printer’s ink and rising blog traffic statistics. In that case, this morning’s annual physical and mammogram were just what the doctor ordered. There’s nothing like being poked, prodded, bled, and squashed to deflate the ego and remind a person she puts her underwear on one leg at a time just like everybody else.
- Waiting for the nurse, the doctor, lab tech, and the rad tech to do their things left me with plenty of time to think about all the normal stuff waiting to be done at home.
- The basil needs to be clipped and turned into pesto.
- Me and Mr. Clean have a date with the kitchen that can’t be postponed any longer.
- Ditto for the Tidy Bowl man and the bathrooms.
- The dust on the furniture is getting thick.
- The weeds are winning in the flower beds, again.
- It’s time to organize my photo CDs and interview tapes, and speaking DVDs.
- I need to learn iMovie and turn my digital movies into demo speaking DVDs.
- First of the month – time to pay the bills.
Boy, was I glad when the lab tech jabbed me with a needle, and I had something less painful to think about.
But, I wonder, when will I get everything done? I figure right after I spend this weekend scrapbooking with my sister-in-law is soon enough. Unless my book becomes a best seller before then. Fat chance, but a writer’s gotta have her dreams.