Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 26, verse 12.
A friend of mine posted a Facebook status today that I borrowed for my own: “Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with my God.” Thank you, Lee, for sharing your words; I hope you don’t mind that they’re being shared here, too. They are the perfect antidote for the foolishness of one who has seen ‘wisdom’ staring back at him in the mirror.
There is a lot of work to do in me when it comes to doing anything humbly. You see, I’m weary of not doing things humbly. Three college degrees have taught me very little that I actually value. I’m proud to have earned them, but those and a quarter still won’t get you a cup of coffee at Peets, ya know? Staying in fancy hotels and jetting around hasn’t satisfied my appetite for more. Indulging myself in my pet sins has left me feeling hollow and sad; letting the memory of them plague me has left me asking “why” and feeling frustrated. Most of the other things that the self-help books tell you to try, well, I’ve tried them. They bring me back to feeling that feeling of barrenness.
They left me feeling barren because they were all about me, about what I was feeling, or didn’t have, or had been hurt by. Remembering that ‘hope’ isn’t just a wish but instead a promise, the verse today promises frustration and anguish for someone who lives his life thinking he’s all that and a bag of Fritos. It’s saying that even the damndest of fools has more good in store for him than I do if that’s how I live my life. That’s an empty, hopeless prospect.
My friend’s status is a soft-spoken reminder of the way I want to go through my days now. I want to seek, actively seek, God’s love in my life. His love is what He is, does, and wants for us. He wants us to share it by walking humbly with Him in every moment, seeking to live out His love in real ways and letting Him live through us so others can know Him too. It really isn’t that tough to understand, yet I’ve walled that off for so many years. In my heart, I put him in an intimidating room labeled “Sunday.” I still haven’t loved Him fully, trusted Him fully to take the helm in my life. “I can” has still ruled my thoughts.” Surrendering my independence to Him has been something I’ve kept off limits. Sure, to be happy and successful, we humans are at our best when we’re self-actualized and independent in our actions.
But to be REALLY happy is to actively love in a different way, letting our self-actualization be in Him and understanding that true freedom comes with giving Him control. That’s what God wants. He wants us to be radically different in how we love (and, thus, how we live). He wants us to surrender both control of our actions AND control of the heart and mind that drive them. He knows what He’s doing and all He is and does is done out of that pure love. Do you think that He who speaks all creation into existence can’t manage to put a smile on your face? Do you believe that He who imparts beauty when you see a magnificent sunset would fail to encourage you when you need it? Do you understand that He who radiates peace through the face of a sleeping child would never fail to solve the inner problems that prevent you or I from knowing peace? He wants us to have that peace.
Where it starts is when I give up seeing myself as wise, as learned, as anything in fact and then start to walk humbly in how He wants me to go. I don’t really know what path He will lead me down, but I trust that the walk will be the right one. And I believe it will totally rock. Unless it’s where He calls me to go, I probably won’t live like a monk…but you know that monasteries are probably not as dull as we think they are! After all, in the Middle Ages when the rest of Europe was moping around in serfdom, monks were practicing walking with God, clean living, and brewing some great beer!
There is this remarkable, supernatural harmony in the Almighty. In all He wrote in His words, there is complete consistency. In the way He imparts peace in our lives, there is real understanding and real hope and real truth. What mucks that up is when I bring “I” back into the equation. His words, His peace and His harmony are not lessened but how I let them rule in my life is. From time to time, I let His beauty shine through the clouds and I get to see how truly, amazingly cool it is. In those moments, I know what I want, and I see that what I want is to put off my burden of self and take up His privilege of love.
So it’s time to, once again, put an end to that. If you’ve noticed, that’s something that I’ve said over & over in the course of writing these ‘columns:’ that it’s time to put an end to X, Y or Z. I’m human just like you. It’s not an excuse; it’s a fact. We slip and fall, we mess up. I do. I do it so much that I have let the sins of my past haunt me into thinking they will rule tomorrow. Thank God He walks beside me, even when I don’t let myself see that He does. Thank God that He is there to take my hand, yet again, and say “I’ve got you” when I look past those clouds in my life and see His light. Thank God He gives you and I the daily chance to turn from the wrongs we’ve done and learn to rely on Him, to walk humbly beside Him and go where He leads us.
In other words, thank God for yet one more last chance to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. When we do that, who I am in my own eyes becomes of miniscule importance because who I am in God’s eyes is spectacular. Just like you are, who He can lead me into becoming is someone very much worth knowing.