Have you ever passed a field of spent sunflowers? Their burnt brown heads are all bowed in the same direction, like a class of naughty kindergarteners abashed by their scolding teacher.
They look as though they considered the dust from whence they came, and maybe we all should do that occasionally? I have passed that same field when the stately golden heads were lifted high and proud and petal-full.
But the spent sunflowers are beautiful in their bare humility, like surrendered souls having shed all pretense to self-sufficiency. I’ve held my own head high, too, on a stiff neck and I’ve withered down to brown humility and though painful, one is infinitely better. Because to be brought low is to know the security and stability of the Source rather than wavering on your own skinny stalk.
This is the one I esteem, declares the Lord. He who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my Word. Isaiah 66:2
Jesus told those heartsick disciples on the road to Emmaus, Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory? (Luke 24:26)
Suffering, it’s everywhere in Scripture, and everywhere around us, and sometimes we’d just rather have our best life now.
God doesn’t seem to view pain the same way we do. C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters that God seems to take His most precious saints through some of the roughest, driest valleys (I believe he uses the very British word “troughs” instead).
His thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways.
So we bow our heads with the sunflowers, give humble thanks, receive the manna-grace for today. We look forward to the day when all our suffering blows away like dust in the wind.
Do you feel withered and barren today, humbled before others or maybe just before your Maker?
It is not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God. 2 Cor. 3:5
No matter what subject I teach from now on, I think I’m going to call it, “Loving People Who Are Hard to Like.” You should probably do that, too, if you teach some sort of class somewhere and want lots of people to come. I’m serious. Call it that, even if you’re really teaching a class in aroma therapy. Just trust me on this. People will come in droves.
That was the title of the seminar I taught at the BGCO statewide ladies’ retreat this weekend, and WOW! I had no idea how popular the topic would be. I wish I had taken a picture so you could understand how packed that room was each of the three times I taught it. There were 2300 women at this retreat, and it seemed like they were all trying to fit in the room at once. 30 minutes before the session started, all the chairs were taken, and people just kept pouring in. At “go” time, I had about 1 square foot of space to call my own, and women were standing in the doorways and out in the atrium to listen from there.
Of course, that so many people long for that sort of relational help says a lot, and could be a blog topic all on its own. But, for today, I want to talk about something else.
After the first two sessions on Friday afternoon, plus participating in the two main sessions in the auditorium, I was pretty spent. I found myself dragging a bit on Saturday morning as I made my way up the hill back to my room for the 3rd and final session that I would teach. It seems like it’s easy to get geared up to teach that first time, but by the third, the temptation is to just coast. Add that to the weariness, and the fact that I hadn’t found a Coke Zero anywhere, and I was facing the very real possibility of coming across much like the monotone economics teacher who put everyone to sleep on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Anyone? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. Voodoo economics”
I didn’t want to do that, so I prayed. It went something like this: “God, I just want to give them my best.” And just as soon as the words came out, He spoke to my spirit: “But we could give them so much more.”
First, I laughed. Because I knew exactly what He meant and how right He (naturally) was. But I’m not gonna lie, my second thought was, “That’s kinda scary.” I mean, I’ve read the Bible. I know at least some of the stuff God can do when people leave things up to Him. I wasn’t sure I was really up for that.
I don’t know about you, but I think I probably forget just how powerful God is, and how He can reveal that power through me, way too often. Also, I shy away from it from time to time because it scares me. Ephesians 3:20 says that He’s able to do far more than we can ask or imagine through His power that works in us. When Job considered all the ways God has revealed His power, he said, “These are but the fringes of His ways; how faint is the word we hear of Him! Who can understand His mighty thunder?”
Clearly, I was praying too small. Don’t get me wrong. Certainly God is pleased when we give Him our best. But. as we do, it’s important to remember that, even on our very best day, we aren’t sufficient in our talents and abilities. Our sufficiency comes from God, and He has plans way bigger than we ever could.
You can do your best at your job this week, and you should. I’m sure your patients, clients, employer, or employees will really appreciate it. Your best can earn you a nice paycheck and the admiration of people. Some people might feel good because of your efforts, and that’s great.
I’m just wondering what would happen if you, and I, invited God to give them more.
Originally posted on Cynthia’s blog.