Humility

I was recently chatting with an old friend, and she expressed her frustration with a great deal of what’s going on in the world today. She said that she’s not surprised by anything anymore, and that it’s almost impossible to know what to do about “all of it.” I, too, am often frustrated by events and situations I read about in the news, but what is different for me now than earlier in my life is that I don’t feel the despair that I used to and that she still does.

God, in the Infinite Goodness that is His very nature, has given us all what we need to respond to “all of it.” In recent years, for reasons I know and some that I am still trying to learn, I had been growing increasingly frustrated. I shared my friend’s feelings of hopelessness. There were, of course, all of the little daily annoyances, such as demands and requirements on my time, energy and some days, perhaps, even on my sanity. There were new worries about children that come up just because they are growing and maturing themselves. We are trying to keep up as parents and do the best we can in raising and forming them, often feeling as if we have no idea at all how to go about it. There were – and still are – all the large and small temptations of Legion that seek to set me apart from the love of Jesus and that shadow my need for God’s help in fighting my damaging habits and thoughts. There was the grief I suffered with the death of my loved ones, the unavoidable changes in my own health as I get older and the growing unrest in the world around us.

As time goes on, I have tried to partner with God in nourishing and encouraging my faith, because I have grown to realize that it is the only way to discover the life God wants for me and to live it. For my part in this partnership, I strive to spend more time with Him, to deepen my prayer life, to read and study both Scripture and books on spiritual life and, most importantly, to keep my heart and eyes open to what God is doing for His part.

For some time now, references to the Sacred Heart of Jesus have been appearing around me with some frequency. They take different forms: a gift from a friend who has no idea of its significance to me, a new image in a familiar place, homilies, songs, books, the list goes on. As I became aware of this, it naturally followed that I would ponder the reasons and what God was trying to tell me. That is when I began finding references to humility in my path.

I have recently been reading Andrew Murray’s book, Humility: The Beauty of Holiness. Murray served as a Dutch Reformed missionary in South Africa in the early 1800s. Ironically, he began his religious studies, not out of a zeal for Christ or even any strong faith, but as a career choice. It was during his studies that he recognized our identity as created beings loved by God. In a letter to his parents Murray wrote, “Your son has been born again. I have cast myself on Christ. May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for him to fill full of his Spirit and his love.” He was a prolific author on Christian spirituality and ministry, founded education institutions and was dedicated to social justice work in his community. His interpretations of Scripture encouraged Christians to allow themselves to believe in and experience the grace of God. He believed that God had done everything necessary for people to live rich, productive, meaningful lives that participated in the life of God. The obstacles to such lives included half-hearted surrender to God, a lack of confidence in the anointing of the Spirit and a deep-rooted skepticism about the power of prayer.

Today’s Gospel reading is yet another message about our place in God’s family. We are his created and beloved ones. We have much to look forward to when our earthly lives are at an end, and we reach our ultimate goal of eternal unity with Him in His presence. The things of this life are weighty. We are always in danger of allowing them to drag on in our minds and hearts, making it difficult for us to hear God’s ever present call. As Murray explores in his book, the only way to truly live as we are meant to is to recognize our nothingness. That is to say that, without humbling ourselves and acknowledging our complete dependence on God’s grace, we can never hope to resist the temptations of apathy and evil. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

We, like Zacchaeus, are invited to see more clearly and to cast out the things of the now to make room for Jesus in our lives. Let our prayer be, as Murray says, that we will come to realize fully our “position as the creature, and [yield] to God his rightful place.”

Lisa Amos

Pastoral Associate

 

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