Posted by: karanoel | January 27, 2011

When not to think outside of the box

Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh, and trotted across to the Lion. “Please,” she said, “you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you then fed by anyone else.”
“Dearest daughter,” said Aslan, planting a lion’s kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, “I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours.”  The Horse & His Boy

At church last Sunday, the pastor spoke on pride. Not just the puffy and bloated kind, but also the deflated and self-deprecating kind. He called the latter something like ‘pride under the guise of humility.’ Because pride is anything that believes differently than what God has said is true.

Back in the day, I bombarded my body with substance, assaulted it with eating disorders, and cut it with knives.  It was self-destruction based on a premise of self-exaltation. I was denying God’s declared love for me, calling him a liar and my own view of myself true. Absolute pride.

Now I have plenty of the other kind of pride too. The kind that thinks too highly of itself and relies on those parts for acceptance. My own righteousness, if you will. Just as ugly, but decidedly more acceptable – not to God, but to the world and even the church.

In a dream years back, I got to heaven and stood before the Lord. I held a rectangular wooden box, longer and thinner than a shoe box and light in weight. It was clear that he was going to make an assessment of my life based on its contents. I have never felt so uncovered as that very profound moment when I realized that he was looking only at my heart for him and nothing else. He did not see my appearance, friendliness, depth, spirituality, or any other thing I’ve relied on for identity. He did not see any natural gifting, ability, or resulting accomplishments. He also did not see my failures. He saw only the parts of my heart that had been yielded to him on this earth. He saw only the actions I had performed in response to what he asked of me. He saw only his kind of love given freely to others. As I think about it, all that box contained was a heart of worship. The rest had been removed.

Sitting in that box, my heart looked so puny, but I could see that what remained of it was as pure as living gold. However exposed, I did not feel inadequate. My adequacy was as filthy rags.  It was terrifying and beautiful. So I stood quietly before his unadulterated presence and recognized his absolute righteousness and sufficiency, as well as all the nothing I had once considered something.

Suddenly beside me, maybe cutting in line, was a business man who had obviously done well in this life. He talked continuously with big and expressive hand motions, trying to convince the Lord of his virtues and successes. He wasn’t holding a box; just presenting his well-dressed self. He was baffled at the lack of response to his charisma and salesmanship. It did not get him very far. Or anywhere at all.

Thinking about this makes me feel the same quietness I did standing before the Lord, as I reflect on how much nothingness I rely on for identity and approval… the things I worship instead of the only one worthy of worship. How much importance I put on aspects of myself – or others – that the Lord doesn’t see or value. How much thought, energy, and money I spend on what is absolutely worthless. Believing that I am getting somewhere, when all the while I am building a kingdom of pride… outside of the box.


Responses

  1. Yes! Thank you, Jesus for your unconditional grace. It seems all too easy to beat myself up and that becomes a marker of pride too.

    For me, the theme of January was Judgment. I’ve been perpetually judgy to everyone and everything. I’m hoping that February is about forgiveness your blog helps me get there, or hope I can get there. Huuuuuuugs!

    • Reading through scripture with the Holy Spirit will help us with any area that we need growth in. It is God’s will that we forgive and He shows us how to do that in His written word otherwise known as “his love letter to us”. I relate to both being judgmental and learning about forgiveness. I just read a book by John Bevere called “The Bait of Satan”. I found that it drew me to understand what forgiveness really is from a biblical perspective and its a thrilling read! That might be a great resource for you too as it was for me. God Bless you on your journey!

    • First of all, I have to say that “judgy” is my new favorite word. It’ll probably end up in a blog post soon because I’m kind of a plagiarizer that way 🙂

      But, yes, it’s funny how pride can wrap itself up in all sorts of costumes. Rascally thing, it is. Interesting about the correlation between beating yourself up and being judgy to everyone. I always find that I can’t give grace to others if I’m not receiving it myself. So, yes, forgiveness all around… for yourself first! And lay down those judgments toward yourself! You are complete and loved and accepted and desired in Christ. You are enough… right now… because Jesus is enough right now. As a fellow sojourner in all these things, I’m declaring a no self-flagellation zone for the both of us. No exceptions.

      Love you. Hope to talk this weekend.

  2. This was a post that I cherished in my heart as I read your words of wisdom and grace. What a beautiful picture of of what is to come as we are standing before the Lord one sweet day bare and unashamed because of what Jesus has done for us.

    I relate to the part about how much energy and money we spend on things that are absolutely worthless. I struggle with the idol of materialism and self-exaltation. For example, if I buy myself a nice bag, watch or something that is of significant earthly value, I struggle with feelings of guilt (even though I know this is not from God) and I feel that I am giving into the world. The other part of my thinking, that is not condemning, tells me that it is ok to buy things I like if: 1) I can afford them 2) if i put them in there rightful place and know that it is a temporal enjoyment that could never replace God in my life as number one and the source of my source of strength and life.

    So that is my struggle, should we never buy things that we enjoy for sake of possibly loving the object of desire more than the desire to have God be our everything?

    • Thank you Melissa. I definitely relate to that struggle! I think, like you said, it is a matter of the heart. Am I using these things to comfort myself or give myself value – taking what He hasn’t given? If so, they will only rob me of the good stuff God wants to give, which is sometimes to keep me from false comforts so he can satisfy my wants with his very beautiful self. On the other hand, am I rejecting something God wants to give me because I don’t feel deserving? If so, then I’m rejecting his love to a degree. It would be like a parent wanting to give a kid a bike (which is for recreation, not necessity) and the kid saying, “I can’t accept that. It really doesn’t seem right.” As a mom, that would really bum me out. And as a heavenly father wanting to give good gifts, I think it probably bums him out too.

      I think it comes down to a surrendered heart that does not have its own agenda. If I’m shopping and get quiet enough to hear, God will give me a peace about buying stuff or not. If I’m in a willful place, I’ll buy it no matter what. But if I’m in a surrendered place, I’ll respond based on his leading. And when he gives me peace to move forward with something, there is no condemnation that can slam me because I’m walking forward in freedom. For me, I know that if I don’t have peace about something (and this goes way beyond material things!), I’m best off waiting. Which is not always the easiest thing to do. 🙂


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