I Can Speak ONLY Of Myself

Yesterday, I wrote about the difference in speaking ‘of’ myself and talking ‘to’ myself. I continued considering this point, and, today, I add that I can speak only of myself.

What brought me to this was failing God  – again – and my concern over having caused Him disappointment. What do I do now? How do I get back that feeling of His compassion and approval?

Research (Google ‘when I disappoint God’) turned up a few important thoughts. One was that there are two elements to disappointment, surprise and frustration. God, omniscient, cannot be surprised by anything. And all of His wrath and anger at us was poured out on Christ at the cross, so there can be no frustration. I should say, no frustration with us, only for us and the mess we make with our self-informed choices. (From ReligionNews.com)

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting people’s sins against them.
2 Corinthians 5

“God’s primary emotion towards us… is love, and we receive it knowing we [have]/can do nothing to deserve it.”

“Jesus came for the spiritually weak, for broken people who live imperfect lives, for those who don’t have it all together, for the serial failures and habitual mess-ups.”

This description fits me perfectly, but it made me wonder, “Are there some to whom this doesn’t apply? Honestly, I can not say there are not.

I can speak only for myself, and my need. I cannot speak for anyone else. I can “suppose” that all need Christ (for all have fallen short), but, if there are those who think/believe they don’t – who am I to judge? Would/could I presume to judge “a man after God’s own heart?”

I know I need Christ, and that is enough. I can only “suppose” that all would benefit from knowing him, but I fail them if I place myself as superior to them because of their lack of belief. Regardless, I am still called to live my life as an example of Christ’s transforming power. It is only by that demonstration, merely backed up by the words I speak, that will shine God’s light in this world.

Bought For The Boughs

Here’s a visual for Lord of The Nerds fans: imagine you’re half-sized and perched on one of the countless boughs of an infinite Treebeard. You’re seeing the world from on high; so different a view it is! You feel the breeze on your face, ruffling your hair and rustling the green leaves. You cling tightly to your seat as it sways, back and forth, its owner taking great strides. You smell earthiness – creation. You notice close by, all your loved ones (equally proportioned), and just a bit further away are even more halflings sitting among the leafy branches. You hear all their voices as a buzzing chorus or, if you focus, individually. Over all is the soft, rumbly voice of the great Ent, Himself, and you all converse, with you saying brave things like, “The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm;” and “Take us south.”

This is the picture this morning’s Tw/G (time with God) has conjured for me. God is like a universal tree, and we are tiny beings raised to sit among His limbs, talking merrily with fellow believers, and praying that He listen to our requests to head toward the battle in the hopes of rescuing even more Hobbits and friends. There are two important messages growing from this imagery.

One is the price of the ticket to this ride. It’s been paid for, in full, by the mighty Vine. All we need do is raise our arms, like a toddler asking to be picked up. We are bought for the boughs.

The other is that any who wish for the light are welcome, and are equally positioned, blessed to be cargo in this canopy. And all are equally concerned with the fate of those still aground. We are trying to

…count others more significant than yourselves…
Philippians 2:3

“Getting humble is recognizing all people as the careful works of God, equally worthy of love and sacrifice.”
WiRE devotional “Gotta Get Humble”

“It’s still all about me – I’m not being able to ‘focus’ on helping others – too much… ‘work’ and ‘business’…”
My journal, 2008

Is humility an intentional thing? Certainly! At least, at first it is. It can be a learned behavior, practiced until it becomes habit, done without a second thought.

“Humility is NOT thinking less of oneself, but thinking of oneself less [often].”

WiRE suggests these things to do:

  • Initiate a conversation and listen more than I talk
  • Serve in a way that’s mundane or difficult, (even unpleasant)
  • Help anonymously
  • Give someone the credit they deserve, even if I deserve some, too

I have seen people consciously do these things for me, and it encourages me to try and not be the one just being heard, or being served, or given the credit. “I know I still make mistakes,” (name that song), and I make them when I am still the focus of my own thinking. And I pray, asking God to ‘Take me south.’

The Last Christian Couple

After a pure engagement of some length (which followed a growing friendship of several years), having already established sober and honest, hard-working yet service-based habits of living, they were wed. They had just arrived at the honeymoon suite – when Jesus returned.

There were absolutely no regrets.

2 Peter 3:3-4 ERV
It is important for you to understand what will happen in the last days. People will laugh at you. They will live following the evil they want to do. They will say, “Jesus promised to come again. Where is he? Our fathers have died, but the world continues the way it has been since it was made.

My niece got married yesterday. It was a very simple, practical yet beautiful Christian ceremony and reception (with an LotR theme), held at the same hall. All who attended had a great time, without any alcohol, celebrating the two becoming one. I suppose these days it would be considered an “old fashioned” courtship. Relationships like theirs just don’t happen that often anymore.

Both the bride and the groom are firm in their faith, and I say it was a “pure” engagement because their character convinces me so. I believe they “did it by The Book.” As a prodigal, eight years returned home, I can respect that. I’m even a little envious of the commitment they have already displayed by the years leading up to the wedding. I wish for such righteous stubbornness.

The Lord is not being slow in doing what He promised, the way some most people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning.
2 Peter 3:9

Let me be clear in saying that I do not regret my path. I would not be happily writing this post if I had traveled by any other route. I like to think I’ve earned the joy and peace that I have in my current circumstances, but I know they are a gift from my loving Father, as are my beautiful wife and wonderful children (and grandchild). Despite all I have been through, I would not trade my journey to receiving any of them away. But neither would I wish my road on anyone – only now, finally, are there things I won’t do again.

Actually, I would warn the happy couple of quite the opposite of my experience. The greatest danger I perceive for them is the Elder Brother’s … the pride of having “stayed the course.” Remember, the strength that has kept you on “the straight and narrow” has its source in your trust in God. Humbly, “It was a gift. Keep it.” (I had to get a quote from the movie in.)

The verses I highlighted in your Bible are:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (memorized early in my healing)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

You’ve already got this one down, whether you realize it or not. Simple being true to your values through your wedding date is proof of that. This world offers many shiny things to distract you from your beliefs.

Psalm 13:5-6
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
will (still) sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Know that you will fail sometimes. You will feel like God has abandoned you. I pray that these times will be few, but they are the way of this broken world. Hang on to this whole Psalm, which has taken me from anger and despair back to His loving, comforting embrace many, many times.

Being Christian is understanding that we will have absolutely nothing to regret on that day – even the ‘good’ things we might have missed. We are in this world only temporarily. Yes, there are things to consummate here, and we can enjoy our successes and learn from our trials, but, in the end, we are bound for something better. A renewed Eden, where only good is.