Ch. 9: Go Lower
Excerpts: God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us. –Martin Luther Value the perspective of small. The secret to a child’s language of laughter, their domain of delight, is perspective. Don’t I often desperately want to wriggle free of the confines of a small life? Yet when I stand before immensity that heightens my smallness–I have never felt sadness. Only burgeoning wonder. We are in the deepest happiness in the posture of grateful worship. How to live in a state of awe when life is mundane and ordinary? Stop. God needs knees more than hands. Expectations kill relationships–especially with God. And that’s what a child doesn’t have–this whole edifice of expectation. Without expectations, what can topple the surprising wonder of the moment? Instead of expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing, and are filled. We must flow like water…always seeking he lowest places–I must go lower. Whenever I am parched and dry, I must go lower, kneel low in thanks. God holds us in the untamed moments too. Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. In contrast, complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart. Didn’t God’s heart often break? He grieved and raged and felt rejection. I won’t pretend I don’t feel any pain.
It’s the numbness that kills you. True lament is the bold faith that trusts Love enough to feel and cry authentic. While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins with the action of thanksgiving.
True saints know that the place where all joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings; joy comes from the place of the very presence of God. Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn’t negate all other emotions–joy transcends all other emotions. Though my marriage tree may not bud and thought my crop of children may fail and my work produce little yield, though there is no money in the bank and no dream left in the heart, I will fight to the death for this: “I will take joy.” (Hab. 3:18) “When troubles come your way, consider it great joy.” (James 1:2) I will wrestle to put skin on it: “Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4) “No man can live without joy” (Thomas Aquinas); I have known many dead wanting to die. Only self can kill joy. I’m the one doing this to me. Responsibilities–response-abilities–invite us to respond to His love-gifts.
Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control…let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper surprised thanks. Joy means dying. Eucharisteo makes the knees the vantage point of a life. This is how you say thank you: Thy will be done.
Value small. Delight in small. Pursue small. If I’m too small to help myself, then there’s a lot of room for Him to help me. If I’m too small for anyone to notice, then there’s a lot He can do through me. If I decrease, He will increase. The more I decrease, then, the more He increases.
Stop. Worship. It simultaneously reminds you how BIG He is and how small you are. I can see how the ordinary normalcy of life, the unexpected bumps that have the propensity to usher in disappointment, can be totally transformed with periodic worship breaks. I began this practice/discipline/delight sometime last year, but it got hijacked.
God needs knees more than hands. I took this as (yet another) encouragement to focus more on being with God (waiting, listening, thanking, interceding) than doing (serving, leading, executing). They aren’t mutually exclusive. After all, we are to pray without ceasing. But I tend to think God needs–or values– me more in getting things done than in praying.
Her distinction between lament and complain was really helpful to me–I have been convicted about complaining previously, and have worked to cease from complaining (I’m not there yet). But I haven’t known what to do with the moments when I’m hurting, struggling, wrestling and I want to talk about it–with Him or with friends who give me godly counsel. Is it okay? Yes, what matters is the heart–in this suffering, does my heart rest in a good God who loves me and will transfigure this ugly into beauty? You can give thanks even in the circumstances that leave you crumpled on the floor in tears.
Numbness. I have felt that a lot since mid 2010. Oh, so true that it kills you. Like leprosy of the spirit. I’d rather feel the pain than feel nothing. It’s a temporary relief but a significant symptom that things are NOT okay. Feelings follow actions. Feeling joy follows the act of giving thanks. That makes a lot of sense.
Oh, reading those scriptures about contending for joy simultaneously inspired and convicted me. Yes, I will contend for joy!! Yes, I can–I will–do this. Oh, but the profound truth that I am the one who has chosen, day-by-day, anxiety instead of joy. My stress, my discontent, my frustration, my sadness is not because of my circumstances, but because of me and my choices. So convicting and yet so liberating–I can make different choices! I choose joy!
Let go of trying to do; leave your hand open to God and be. Such few words; such enormous challenge.