Humility

Humility is so elusive.

I think most people consider it to be a noble character trait, though there are probably so many facets and levels of understanding of what humility actually is that we will never fully grasp.

I have often prayed that God would grant me humility, not knowing what that would entail.  Recently, I believe that God has finally started the lifelong process of that scary thing that I’ve been asking him to do for years.  It’s interesting what a fine line exists between humility and hopelessness.  I know I will never fully get there and sometimes I think I’ll barely make it through the day, but things are changing, heart routines are being challenged, and tectonic shifts in my priorities are occurring all the time.  It’s excruciatingly painful and utterly disorienting.  Who am I??  How long can I do this always-being-challenged-always-learning thing??  Is there anything right in me??  How much fixing and adjusting do I need??  Ugh.  Humility is hard work, and I don’t even feel more humble…that is, based on what I understand humility to be.  And I definitely don’t feel very noble.  Mostly I just feel like I’m looking for a way out of some funk that has strangely given me some clarity about what a wretch I am.

I was recently doing a Bible study with a group of friends from Luke 14:

25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

There were so many insights about this passage that I had never considered before.  But one shadow of insight came to me in the last moments of quiet reflection.  I’ve been trying to get a tighter grasp of that shadow, but as soon as I make headway, I feel like it’s slipping out of my hands.  I had always read this passage as a threat, an ultimatum.  It never sat well with me, making me feel like, “There’s no way I could do this.”  But then I realized something.  This is not a threat.  This is wisdom.  This is truth.  I don’t think Jesus was drawing a line in the sand.  He was teaching us.  Discipleship costs something.  Humility costs something.  The world has redefined our native economy.  Cost has been redefined.  Jesus was talking about Kingdom economy using the world’s language.  Some things may have gotten lost in translation to us.  Perhaps, hence the elusiveness.

Humility, as defined by the Kingdom, is something entirely different than what we have understood it to be.  “First will be last, and the last first” has layers upon layers upon layers and facets upon facets upon facets.  We can’t possibly understand the infinite wisdom of this economy.

This all reads like I’m “getting it”.  But even as I type this, it’s turning into a mist that is evaporating out of my heart…

Yup.  Elusive.

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