"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hiking boots...humility...and a friend


Most days when I go for my morning walk in the fields, I am so very glad I have worn my hiking boots.  Returning home, they are caked in mud and have repelled what-seems gallons of water.  I am so grateful that I have a good pair of boots.  I need them here where I live, to be sure.  I am dependent on them for comfort and stability.

Dependence.

He visited our church last Sunday.  Following up on his experience, he responded, "I wouldn't go back.  I don't like how much they all depend on God."

He didn't like the dependence he saw.  It was off-putting and not attractive to him.

He isn't wrong.  His assessment is correct; even if, to my mind, his response is sad.  Christians are, by definition, "dependent" on God.

It is all about dependence.  It is all about surrender.  And, reliance.  And, a laying-it-down.

But, unlike this friend, my heart hears these words and with them comes an a feeling of invitation.  An invitation to forgiveness, to mercy, to rest, to freedom and to love.

I would argue that we are always dependent---whether we like to admit it or not.  It isn't really a choice to be dependent or not.  Am I alone in, simply, dependence on a morning coffee to keep away a headache?

We are, by nature, dependent beings.  We need things...food, water, air, ---just to start.  We depend on the laws of nature and we depend on our friends, our spouses and our parents.  We depend on boots to cover our feet in the muddy fields.

Dependence on God.  What do those word sound like to your ears?  Do they sound  like a "crutch" or a brace you don't like and don't want to hinder, squash or hold-you-back.  Or, does it sound like a good, sturdy, comfy pair of hiking boots---necessary, wise, and wonderfully freeing while walking this life's journey?

For me, I suppose, I am learning that dependence and submission---humility, really---are like these robust hiking boots.  Humility-boots that make the journey steady and straight; boots that allow for a variety of terrain and weather.

When describing the life Jesus lived on earth, Andrew Murray suggests that one main characteristic of Christ's life was exactly this:  dependence.  (Humility by Andrew Murray)

"By myself, I can do nothing.  I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." (John 5:30)

Murray simplifies true humility as being the "consent of the creature to let God be all, the surrender of itself to His working alone."

Jesus shows us this in His life on earth.  "He teaches us where true humility begins and finds its strength--in the knowledge that it is God who works all in all, that or place is to yield to Him in perfect resignation and dependence, in full consent to be and do nothing of ourselves."

"This life of entire self-abnegation, of absolute submission and dependence upon the Father's will, Christ found to be the source of perfect peace and joy."  ~Andrew Murray

Perfect peace and joy sound like comfort and strength to me.  What an invitation!  I suppose, in part, it is because I know the kind Father that issues this invitation to me.  I have met this Jesus, who shows us these things and says "come to me and I will give you rest for your souls!"

Although I can make my educated guesses, I don't truly understand why this is so off-putting to my friend.

But, what I do know is that I am so glad I have my hiking boots to put on when I go for my walk tomorrow! Unfortunately, I don't always choose to put them on---and then I come back with soaked, cold feet.  I do have a choice each day.

But, the fact is, I can always choose them---and it is a good, wise thing when I do.
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