Today’s sermon touched on humility, showing the ways in which Jesus humbled himself before others, before the cross. While that topic is a challenging (and important one) for Christians, it was what happened in the post-sermon prayer time that struck me most today.
Pastor Harley asked us to ponder two questions after the sermon on John 13, which is the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. The first question, “Are you receiving the love of Christ today?”, was followed up with are more probing subtext…are we trying to fulfill ourselves by seeking other things more than a relationship with Jesus? The second question was, “Whose feet is God calling you to wash today?” He then asked us to be still as the praise band played a song, lamenting that being still is something that our culture has a hard time doing. Pastor Harley prayed as we asked God to come to us in that moment to bring to light what we needed to hear.
And as always, God did.
I almost didn’t write about my epiphany. My husband and I left church feeling great after a contemplative message, filled with the Holy Spirit. I was satisfied with God speaking to me and revealing His wisdom. And I was in awe. But, that feeling was fleeting as I let the familiar weekend routine set back in, continuing along with my plans, having completed my Christian duty of attending church and accepting Christ’s weekly word. We went home, and I started weeding, and then we ran some errands, came home for lunch, played with our dog and sat on the couch watching Guy’s Grocery Games. But God’s message was still nagging at me. I had to do something more with it. I’ve been praying for a long time to hear the will of God, and it hasn’t come to me with any clarity. I have had a string of sleepless nights where I would stay up, awake in bed for hours, turning to the Bible certain that God was calling me to it for a message. Still nothing. But sitting in the chair in church today, I now know why.
In answer to the first question above, no, I have not been receiving the love of Christ. I have been too busy focusing on the ways in which I want God to hear me. I’ve been so ultra centered on looking for the signs and symbols around this one topic that has been plaguing me for years, that I have been forgetting to live in relationship with God and make that the top priority, to grow with and glorify Him. I’ve been a fool throughout my spiritual journey. I’ve been thinking that as long as I’m talking to God, I must be in relationship with him. As long as I pray to him everyday, I must be growing. But my prayers have been unilateral. Every day I pray the same things: God, please make me pregnant. If I’m not meant to be pregnant, please give us a sign of your intentions for the growth of our family. If we are not meant to be parents, please take away this desire and show us Your will. Every day my sole focus is on this one deficit in my life. The yearning and the struggle and pain shrouds all else.
Pastor Harley used the word depravity when talking about Peter and Judas, how they both lacked humility because they both operated from a space of “without”. And that is what the Holy Spirit spoke to me about in the silence. The devil brings the “withoutness” to the forefront, while Jesus’s still small voice seeks to remind us of all that is with us. In fact, I am sure that the Holy Spirit was intent on driving this point home to me today. Before my husband and I went to church this morning I turned on the TV to Oprah Winfrey’s Soul channel, and she was interviewing Paul Williams and Tracy Jackson who had written a book together called Gratitude and Trust. The best seller is a spin-off of the addiction 12 Step Program, touting that the steps of recovery are good to live by for everyone. And that title gets to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it? To be grateful for what we have and trust that God will make everything all right.
Michael and I pray before every meal we eat. We take turns. It’s one of the favorite rituals we have in our family. In every prayer we thank God for His mercy and the blessings He has bestowed upon us. We utter the words of thankfulness, but we don’t live a grateful life. We don’t ooze an attitude of gratitude. Because our hearts are broken; we are broken. But as I sat in church today, I was given this prodding reminder that God won’t touch my needs until I get in line with His. It wasn’t a guilt-stricken one. It was so gentle, like an internal hush. And I just knew. That’s how the Holy Spirit works, at least with me. He doesn’t bang me in the side of the head with a pot to tell me, He waits for me to swim up to it, to paddle over to it, to turn my head towards it. And then it’s just there.
In response to the second question, whose feet is God calling me to wash? Who does God want me to be in service to the most right now? Lots of names scrolled through my head and then, again, a light bulb. Actually two. One of my coworkers who has been dabbling in Christianity came to mind, and I have the opportunity to guide her. And then there’s my mother. That larger topic is for another day, but it has been a point of contention in my life for a very long time, so it makes perfect sense that God would illuminate it for me now.
I want to take a moment to thank God for speaking to me and answering my prayer to hear His word. I also want to continue to pray for the strength to be obedient to His will, otherwise, why would he continue to talk to me if He knows I’ll just keep doing my own thing? God humbled me today and for that I am very grateful. I thought I had it mostly figured out, and had a formula towards success with His wisdom. But of course, we never really do when God’s will isn’t paramount.
As I sit here typing right now, Thy Will by Hillary Scott is playing on my Pandora. If you haven’t heard it before, I encourage you to listen to it as the lyrics are profound. Lord, may I continue to hear those words and weave them deeply into my heart and my intent for my continued journey towards humility and a grown relationship with you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.