Wow, today has been a learning experience. I know that I have been slacking (again) about writing on here, and this time I have no excuses, except for the ever famous "I didn't have time". However, a friend recently pointed out to me that we make time for the things that are important to us...which is totally true! So I am left without excuse I suppose.
I find it amazing how God teaches us things in such specific ways. This morning I received a letter from home, and in it, my friend was really challenging me to pray about a certain area of my life. Oh how often my flesh wants to defend myself! No one likes being told that they are doing the wrong thing or have areas of there life that they need to focus on...but what is REALLY convicting is when the person actually notices enough to tell you about it! Ouch!
My first thought was anger, which I know that it shouldn't have been, but it was. I was angry that someone presumed to know what was going on in my life when they really didn't. But then, as I started to think about it more, I realized that the words they spoke to me were partially true...and that is why they hurt. Our immediate instinct is always defense. We try to "save face" as often as possible, when, in reality, everyone knows that we all have our own areas of struggle. People can only pull off the "perfect person" mask for so long before everyone catches glimpses of the true self.
So anyway, as I let these feelings of anger and bitterness wash over me, my poor brother tried to understand why I was so upset. He is always so supportive of me and I knew that he was genuinely trying to figure out what the big deal was. He helped me to see that I was taking the entire thing as a personal attack, instead of a correction in love. I was still genuinely upset after lunch, but I couldn't exactly pinpoint why. When I came up to my room and got on my computer to check my email, I clicked into my devotional that is delivered to my inbox every day:
Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture Reference: Mark 15:31 Matthew 16:25
Today I was tempted in a new way (the Tempter has a bag of many tricks) to "save" myself. This time it involved a matter of "face." The Lord reminded me that I should let it go.
We are always trying to save ourselves in one way or another. It is impossible, except on the terms Jesus gave the disciples: let yourself be lost (Mt 16:25 NEB). It was the only way Jesus could save the world, though the people challenged Him to save Himself. "Himself He cannot save"(Mk 15:31 AV) was what they said, uttering an eternal principle far deeper than they had any idea of. It is true for us as well. If we are going to obey the will of the Father, we cannot save ourselves. We must give ourselves up, be lost--then, and only then, will we "find" ourselves.
WOW! Talk about conviction! It was as if God himself came down and said "Now Emily, why are you still trying to save yourself?" It is natural instinct to want to save ourselves, but the Lord showed me today that there are times when we truly just need to let go. Our prideful hearts want to show the world that we are somehow "better"; that our sin is not really all that sinful, and that there was a "reason" that we acted in the way that we did. However, a big part of humility is learning to take those corrections and criticisms for what they are...without offering excuses and without trying to "save face".
It does hurt to learn lessons like these... I am the type of person that enjoys pulling all my sins into a little closet and locking the door. When someone starts to peak through the keyhole... I use excuses like "HEY...that's personal! Get out of my life. You don't know me...you are just being judgemental." But how awesome it would be if I really used those opportunities to learn and grow in my relationship with the Lord instead of letting them fuel my anger.
I need to take the corrections that I receive with love and humbleness. Whether they be from friends, family, or acquaintances, I am praying that I learn how to receive them with grace, even if I don't agree.
In Andrew Murray's book "Humility - The Journey Toward Holiness" he quotes:
"Place yourself before God in your helplessness; consent to the fact that you are powerless to slay yourself; give yourself in patient and trustful surrender to God. Accept every humiliation; look upon every person who tries or troubles you as a means of grace to humble you."
I actually tried doing this one day, and I was amazed at how much freedom I felt and how at peace I was. To not have to constantly be arguing over things but to simply accept whatever comes; Not trying to prove that I was right, but simply resting in the fact that the Lord knows the truth; Accepting every humiliation as a means of grace to humble my heart.
Here is one other quote by Murray:
"Accept with gratitude everything that God allows from within or without, from friend or enemy, in nature or in grace, to remind you of your need for humbling and to help you in it."
I find that the accepting with gratitude part is the hardest. The majority of the world has not learned to say thank you for the moments that humble them, because those moments are uncomfortable. However, those moments have the potential to become the foundations of humility for us, if only we will let them.
I am learning more every day about this journey that we call life, and I thank the Lord for every person who has helped direct my gaze back towards the cross. The Lord is teaching me how to receive corrections and confrontations with grace...though I do have a long ways to go. However, now I have something to strive for, and I hope, with God's help, to be more aware and diligent in this area of my life.