You don't know me. I'm okay with that. This is my search for insignificance.
Friday, November 8, 2013
I Needed This
If you've been following me lately, you know I've had a busy 6 weeks. My senior pastor has been away, teaching in the Middle East. Don't get me wrong, I love preaching. But this schedule was full. Different things kept me going. Here's one message I needed deep into week 5 from youth ministry guru Rick Lawrence.
In case you're wondering, it's the warhorses verse I quoted until my tasks were done. Thanks Rick!
You’re probably pretty
darn good at your job—whether or not you hear that affirmation from your
students or their parents or your supervisor. You’ve done some pretty great
things under some pretty difficult circumstances—I’m pretty sure of it…
And, after all, one of our tacit pursuits is “excellence”—we’re a culture
that worships excellence in all of its expressions. We want excellent
service at excellent restaurants so we can enjoy excellent conversation
with our excellent friends.
Excellence is our holy grail.
But I’m also pretty sure that I’m less than excellent, pretty much most of
the time. Ever feel so less-than-excellent that you find yourself
whispering this sort of prayer under your breath?
“Sorry, Lord. Sorry,
Well, I’m well-practiced in this basic lament. And the other day, in the
middle of one such apology, I did something I often do—I asked God if He
had anything to say to me, and then I waited… After a moment or two I “saw”
Psalm 33:13-22 in my mind’s eye. So I turned there, and here’s what I read
(italics are mine):
The Lord looks down
from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he
observes all who live on the earth. He made their
hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped
army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your
warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches
over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from
death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in
the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts
rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing
love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
If “warhorse” is just another way of describing our skills, abilities, and
gifting, then the Psalmist is telling us a hard truth—these things are not
to be counted on. Our strengths are enticing to us. We are sorely tempted
to depend upon our own ability to rise to the occasion rather than throw
ourselves on the mercy of Jesus and beg for His strength, His courage, and
His “excellence.” How can we remind ourselves of our need for dependence,
outside of circumstances that drive us to it?
When I pray, I’ve now decided to do something that’s, well, a little
eccentric. But if I practice the same patterns of self-sufficiency in my
life, how can I expect my basic reluctance to live dependently to change?
And so here’s what I’m doing now. Whenever I pray, whether in a formal
sit-down time or whispered under my breath in the chaos of my day, I start
by addressing Jesus this way: Your Excellency…
I wonder what will happen if this becomes a habit rather than an experiment
for me. I wonder if I will turn to my “warhorse” far less than I do now,
and turn to Jesus, in a posture of desperate dependence, far more often.
All of Jesus’ best friends were desperate people. And I want to be one of
His best friends…