Another lie bites the dust

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We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 Berean Study Bible

September in Alabama means withering heat. As I watered my ferns the other day, a disheartening thought flooded my mind: ‘Life is just one chore after another!’

That’s horrible, Lord! Say it ain’t so!’, I desperately prayed. Immediately, I countered with as many truths that I could muster.  For God has given me the ability to control my thoughts, to capture them and not sink under them. He has endowed humans with rational minds. I am not enchained to the suggestions that flit through my mind.

As I countered this enemy attack, I directed my gaze to the beauty of my plants, to the view I had from our second-story balcony and thanked God for his good gifts.  A new thought flowed from having turned my attention to the Eternal One.  I’ve read that as ‘I AM’, he inhabits each moment, so each of our moments is eternal, because they are stamped with the creator’s mark.

Already I started to feel cheerier.

Once again, I had been caught blindsided, by what I now know as a Satan-suggestion. I’m learning to be more alert for these very effective attacks.

As I’ve written in earlier posts, this season’s sanctification curriculum designed by the supreme guidance counselor, the Holy Spirit, is aimed at humbling me.  That might sound painful, but I’m finding it to be freeing.  Andrew Murray’s book, Humility and Absolute Surrender (assigned by the Spirit and sent to me by Regina) has convinced me of the spaciousness of accepting as gift the awareness that I have been designed to be needy, rather than to be enough.  I am learning to see each little humiliation, disappointment, delay as divine gifts. So far, I have been able to smile when I recognize them.  But, knowing the Holy Coach, he has more challenging training programmed.

The fern incident gave me a helpful insight in what it means to embrace humility.  Part of my obsessive quest to be enough as Maria (the opposite of acknowledging one’s emptiness) has included the capacity to get a lot done.  What’s ironic is that when Satan through watering my plants pointed to an endless stretch of tasks, he thought he could feed my productivity itch with his depressing message. Instead, it reminded me that I was not created to DO, but to BE.

God gave Adam and Eve all they needed in abundance. Furthermore, out of love, he daily sought them out, delighting in their happiness.  Sure, they were tasked with tending creation, but he didn’t fellowship with them to see if they had completed all their chores for the day.

Then Satan entered stage right and they swallowed the evil antagonist’s suggestion of self-sufficiency, thereby rejecting their father’s kindness. They were hood-winked into believing and preferring the idea that they could be enough. That they didn’t need God.  Would that they had humbly brought this plan to their creator for his take on it.

Instead, they fell for the lie, thus enslaving themselves and their descendants to the rule of Satan, the supreme head over the Kingdom of Do.

Out of his never-ending love for us, God has been steadily working his original good plan to free us from Satan.  I can imagine no greater gift than God’s liberation. Through regeneration, he gave me eyes to see the lie and a heart that desired to turn to him. At that moment, the Holy Spirit transferred me into the Kingdom of Be.

Happy humility and restful trust in THIS King are the twin principles of those who understand God’s plan. Yet, Satan doesn’t easily give up.  He keeps marketing the lure, the supposed reward of feeling ‘enough’ through doing more.

For too much of my life, I’ve been a sucker for that carrot. But, behind that fake, glittering prize lies ongoing enslavement and the Sisyphean burden of always doing and never gaining the relief I yearn for. 

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for alerting me yet again to the lie. Help me, by your power, continually to ‘hand over each thought to Jesus’ for him to evaluate it and tell me his truth.  

The lure of wanting to be ‘enough’ versus the freedom of humility

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Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves Matthew 6:24 NIV

For decades, I have subconsciously felt that I am ‘not enough’ as I am and have compensated, without being aware of how much. 

Slowly over the months, God has been guiding me in a new sanctifying journey of coming face to face with what I now see as a sinful reaction to feeling like I am not enough. 

I believe I started to craft a ‘worthy’ persona in my sophomore year of high school.  Trying out and NOT being selected for a drill/dance team (one step down from the cheerleaders) together with a sense that I wasn’t popular changed my direction. I buried myself in academics. Not a bad thing in itself.  But it initiated a trajectory of increasing drivenness.

Something happened last fall to trigger this new phase of spiritual growth. Graham, my son, shared a podcast interview with guest Jamie Winship. When Jamie named that feeling of ‘not being enough’, God touched something in my core, that released tears.

Jamie went on to describe the freedom that comes from just journaling or talking out loud to Jesus about raw feelings and listening to what He says through Scripture. Since then, God has slowly been revealing the sin that drives one to craft a persona that is ‘worthy’ of the world’s attention.

Summer arrived and the process of leaving ‘enoughness’ to Jesus gained speed.  An overnight retreat and catch-up with my dear friend Regina brought painful but liberating insights.  As she listened to me, I suddenly could see how like Martha I have been and how much more like Mary I long to be.

Regina reminded me of Jesus’ humility and mentioned author Andrew Murray.  A few weeks later Regina gifted me with Murray’s book entitled, Humility and Absolute Surrender.

Then last week, at the end of August, Mike and I spent 5 days in mountains of North Georgia. We spent our mornings slowly, savoring the beauty as we read God’s word, thought, prayed and shared insights.

What I am learning from Andrew Murray’s book is this fact:

  • I am not enough and neither are you.  That is by God’s purposeful design for David writes in Psalm 22:9 (NIV) ….. you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.

So, my self-assessment at age 15 was accurate. The truth is, God did not design any of us to be enough, to be self-sufficient. He created us to be 100% dependent on Him, to be needy as a nursing baby.

I see now that although I accurately assessed my condition back in the ‘70s, I didn’t see that TWO paths lay before me.  I listened only to Satan’s solution, that of ‘making myself enough’. All along, another choice waited, that of owning my ‘not enoughness’ and embracing God’s plan for JESUS to be my sufficiency!

But, how would I have known?  I didn’t grow up in a Christian home.  I didn’t know anything about God other than a vague notion that He existed.

Murray presents the two paths, or you could say, the two kingdoms.  Satan encourages us to live in the Kingdom of Pride of Self (as I’m calling it) and Jesus invites us into his Kingdom of Humility.

As that opening verse from Matthew declares, the way into the Kingdom of Humility is to deny oneself.  For me, I define that as ‘stop feeding what make you think you are special.’   I don’t think I struggle with wanting to be self-sufficient. Ever since I became a Christian, I have prayed for what I need. But I now see that I take pride in so many aspects of Maria.  Every judgment I make about someone, practically without thinking, is a 180-degree statement of what makes Maria special.

Murray is providing me with new ideas, such as:

  • the glory of being just an empty vase chosen by God
  • how Jesus emptied himself
  • the freedom of being nothing
  • the spaciousness of letting everyone be better than me
  • the leisure of seeking only to learn humility from my Champion and serving my fellow man

I have much to learn and to put into practice.  But I feel hope-filled for the first time in a long time.  Thanks be to God!

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