During the past few weeks, my Bible study group has been mediating on the idea of humility. Recently, we learned about Paul’s humility.
What strikes me about Paul is that his characteristics and strengths remained constant through his journey: before he knew God and after he found God’s grace and mercy. He was always a zealous, perseverant, thick-skinned person – but it was once targeted for persecution, and then changed to a zealousness for telling people about mercy, repentance, and the gospel.
While most of us aren’t as extreme as Paul (as in, we don’t persecute Christians or use our gifts for the complete opposite of God’s calling), I have realized one thing: when we use our strengths on our own terms, we often think we are using them well and that we are in a good place. We don’t necessarily know what lies ahead of us and how much more we could do if we used these for God. This is where humility comes in.
I was reminded of my youth pastor, who once talked about how she got to a ministry of helping addicts and the homeless. She said that she originally went to school for hotel management and hospitality, and she always thought she would use this to establish a career managing trendy restaurants and hotels in the city. God changed her plans, and she was humble enough to let Him do so. God used her strengths and passion to change her ministry and define her calling. Instead of managing restaurants, she now serves thousands of meals to the homeless. Instead of managing hotels, she manages sober living facilities for men coming out of drug addiction, prison, and homelessness. This new mission required the same general skills, but has a very different purpose.
I can’t help but apply this to my own life, and ask questions about how God will use my experiences and gifts to reach the lost. But I also don’t think that I, with all my limited understanding, have the knowledge and foresight to put this together – to figure out how to use my strengths for God. What I have learned and what I continue to learn is that part of humility is 1) trusting in God and 2) letting go of our plans so that His better, more perfect plans can begin to emerge.
I’m not writing this post because I’m heartbroken. I’m disappointed, upset, a little angry, and distrustful – but I’m not heartbroken.
But I’m writing this post because knowing how I feel after this earthly heartache brought upon by mere rejection, I cannot begin to imagine how our Creator feels when we – His creation – reject Him.
O Lord, when I reject you, as I have countless times before, is this what you feel: heartache, sorrow, pain? I’m so sorry. I am weak and broken and faithless and ungrateful. And you’re perfect. Yet you love me while I end up rejecting you. How can that be?
This sorrow of mine cannot even begin to compare to the sorrow of eternal separation.
“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”
God said to me today: Stay. Wait in the present, in my presence. Be still and know that I am God.
In response, I pray to Him: Lord, please forgive my rebellion, strengthen my trust, and help me wait, stay, in contentment for Your promises to be fulfilled.
A very happy 10th birthday (and lots of treats) to my beautiful dog. I love you always!
A word for me today: Do not dread.
As my final undergraduate semester begins, I realized I’ve been overcome by waves of dread, and as a result, have been walking around with a cloud of gloom over my head. I’ve been dreading writing my thesis, dreading my less than ideal (okay, very less than ideal) roommate situation, dreading coming back to New York (yet also dreading graduation), dreading starting the routine of full-time work – the list goes on.
I realized dread while it’s a bit like fear, it’s a bit different. We usually fear what can hurt us, what’s evil, what we do not know. But when we dread, we usually dread what God has set out for us to do. So dread not only sucks up the joy and the strength that God gives us – but can be a flat out rejection of God plan and the precursor to an ungrateful heart.
In my case, I know God’s plan is for me to write my thesis, to graduate, to start working. And yes, I am excited about these things – I believe God makes us excited about what He has in store for us. Yet the more I dread, the less joyful I am.
So instead of waiting in “fearful anticipation” (as a post I read put it), let us hopefully anticipate His perfect plans and the joy that comes when we walk in them.
On other things, I traveled to Singapore and Hong Kong this past week. It was actually quite a bit of a culture shock to me, which I wasn’t expecting at all.
I realized I’ve never ever been that much of a minority (outwardly) before. In Europe, in India, in the US, in Spanish-speaking countries, I’ve always either blended into a homogenous group or I’ve been in a place diverse enough to not stand out.
But in both these places (especially Hong Kong), I definitely stuck out like a sore thumb. For one, I do not speak Cantonese, and then my brown skin was a clear “look at me” (not necessarily in a good way) sign.
I also realized that I’m not very open to being out of my comfort zone – literally and spiritually. I found myself doing all I can to blend in to the environment around me. This is fine, but when I’m supposed to be a light in the world, how can I succeed if I’m always trying to blend in by hiding this light?
PS. Here’s a cool shot I got while hiking on one of the beautiful islands near Hong Kong:
You held the heavens in Your hands as You moved over the seas
A world so formless and its darkness covering the deep
Then came a light out from the dark as You gave the stars their names
What beauty out of emptiness through words that You proclaimed
But still You know me, still You know me
Still You know me, just one man
And still You love me, still You love me
Still You love me as Your own
From dust You breathed Your life in me: a gift of such great cost
In Your image I am made to be a ruler of this earth
And then the pride inside it rose above the love You’d shown to me
A fruit so pleasing to my eye that lay upon that little tree
And then that fated day it came when You sent Your only son
I spit upon Him, mocked His name as his blood for me poured out
He died and then He rose again to break the chains of sin
But still my heart rejects this grace time and time again