Last week the students in my Writing Close to the Earth online class read George Orwell's classic essay, "Politics and the English Language." In it ... Read More
This is one of those scribbles that starts off in the toilet then proceeds into heaven. “I hope,” he says, scratching his beard.
There is a bathroom a certain man frequents. When this man first enters the dark and private chamber the lights do hesitate, and then do come on–even while the baffled first-timer gropes along the wall for the usual trigger. Having found none, he thinks to himself, “Ah, automatic lights. What would Jules Verne think?” And he proceeds to enjoy the meaning of lighted, lavatorial convenience.
Later this same man is fooled only a few more times in the ritual, and he no longer gropes along the wall for the on-switch–-there is no such switch, only a sensor–and he relieves his mind of that duty and skips this formerly ingrained step.
Later still he anticipates with confidence what will occur moments after he enters the darkness and, in jubilation, he snaps his fingers in concert with the burst of light. He feels a little bit like God.
That man is me.
I remembered, of course, that I wasn’t God. It actually served as a little goad to good-thinking. God, like the tale spinner he is, speaks and the world he imagines breathes, blinks, and gets flat tires. He is all-powerful and his words are alive. “Light,” he says and there it is.
My pretended pretense does, however, make me think of all the genuine pretense I engage in. How I pretend sovereignty in many rather insane ways. For instance, I grumble about my health. I react with disgust when my selfishness is rebuffed. I complain when modern conveniences are a little bit slower than they should have been. I believe insane political ramblings about what I’m entitled to. I sit in a culture rich beyond the imagination of almost every person who has ever lived (and is living) and I complain about circumstances, the “economy,” and my rights.
When I am like this I am a humanist.
That is, I see man as the center of the universe and, if he is included, God is included in the same way he is a popular name to drop at the end of the imbecilic, political speech. Here is a familiar, non-threatening, accommodating grandpa whom no one takes seriously anymore.
But I don’t think that’s true, so why do I act like it’s true? We can wrap up a product of the restroom in a gold-plated treasure-chest but it doesn’t do much to change the product in question. It is what it is.
Belief is more than intellectual consent.
Abraham took Hagar. We all stumble in many ways.
I am thankful that God lovingly reveals the idols we often unwittingly allow to dominate our hearts while he is wrecking everything to love us. So die, damned humanism of my heart.
What does faith in Yahweh look like?
I believe that faith in Yahweh is full of thankfulness, and not jealous of claimed “rights.”
I believe that faith in Yahweh is astonished at mercy, not eager for personal justice.
I believe that faith in Yahweh is abounding in grace, not miserly and hoarding.
I believe that faith in Yahweh is patient in affliction, not outraged at the loss of what was a gift to begin with (like health, wealth, position).
I believe that faith in Yahweh is humble, not preoccupied with status.
I believe that faith in Yahweh sees suffering and does not cry out to God “This is unfair,” but instead cries out, “Oh God, you have been merciful to me, can I be merciful here?”
I believe that faith in Yahweh is astonished that anyone receives mercy, increasingly so as the reality of our offense becomes clearer as we grow closer to Jesus.
I believe faith in Yahweh issues in love (in that order), not that somehow “loving everybody” gets you standing with Yahweh.
This is something very simple we pray in our home because we need a lot of mercy, want to be thankful people, and we want grace real bad. And we want to look to Christ, and have life.
“Oh God of Abraham, please give us humble hearts.
Oh God of Isaac, please give us thankful hearts.
Oh God of Jacob, please give us faith. Let us see Jesus.”
Understanding that these are gifts, and not entitlements, ought to go a long way in answering the prayer for humility.