One month to go, more or less, until Elijah joins us. Some days I am really excited and energetic, thinking about how little time that is and how fast it will go. Other days, like today, I am tired. And down. There is no reason to be down today, especially since there is a baby coming. Finding out the insurance check for the bulk of my jaw work is in the mail (yay!) this morning should have sent me over the moon with happiness. But, as I prayed earlier, happiness isn’t what I want. I want joy, lasting, true joy. I’ve been reading through a series of missionary stories, and in the most recent one the author was talking about a book she’d read called Humility by Andrew Murray. I was able to obtain that book through interlibrary loan, and finished it last night. It had some thought provoking statements, such as the definition of humility being “the simple consent of the creature to let God be all, the surrender of itself to His working alone”. Here is another good quote: “In God’s presence, humility is not a posture we assume for a time- when we think of Him or pray to Him- but the very spirit of our life. It will manifest itself in all our bearing toward others…It is in our most unguarded moments that we truly show who we are and what we are made of.” And this: “Let us look upon everyone who tries us as God’s means of grace, God’s instrument for our purification, for our exercise of the humility of Jesus.”

I had already been thinking along these lines as I work again through The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. I say “work through” because I really don’t want to pass to the next chapter until I have seen some evidence of God working something out from the current chapter. In this book he talks a lot about the ‘self life’ and how deep and tangled it is in our souls, making it very difficult, therefore, to die to self. A crucifixion is necessary, Tozer says, and nothing less. It was required of Christ, it is required of me. But, this is not something I can do myself. I only can submit myself to God and ask Him to do it for me. Only a work of God can allow me to die to self, and only a work of God can produce in me true humility.

So, I have started praying for humility, and for God to peel away those many layers of my self that exist there, and maybe waking up the way I did today (down, tired, not wanting to be humble or even act like I wanted to be humble) was the normal way of this new life. Maybe it is like a detox from sugar or caffeine- you feel crappy at first. Maybe I need to continue in prayer and praise, specifically because I don’t want to.

Getting back to my missionary stories, the next chapter in the one I am currently reading was about the couple’s experience in Thailand in a very dark place. The husband was struggling with even feeling like the Holy Spirit was in him.

“…he began to understand that he had truly received cleansing at the moment of repentance and that he must take the focus off himself and his unworthiness and turn his attention toward God. In the days that followed he began to sing to the Lord in joyous worship and adoration. He read the Psalms, making the ancient phrases his own. Praise became the gateway of assurance that the cry of his heart had been answered. In this gracious, simple way God was explaining to Norm the deep truth of death to self (Romans chapters 6-8).”

Isn’t that amazing? Taking the focus off of self, death to self…not to mention I have been going through the Psalms this summer! All this to say, it could be that I am going to have days like this as I wait on the LORD. Days my self is quite comfortable in first place and doesn’t take kindly to being ignored, let alone crucified. But it isn’t about me; it is about Him, and how He can use a sinner like me.

“God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

The Good I Should Have Done?

I had an interesting morning at Aldi.

Luke stayed home with the kids so I could get out by myself and do the grocery shopping. It is so nice to drive along in the car, no radio, no sounds at all, and just think. As I made my way up to Ontario, I noticed a couple garage sales and a tag sale at a church. If I had any cash left after groceries, I decided, I would stop at them on the way home.

I was just rounding the corner after the first aisle, looking for cinnamon, when a lady came up really close to me and stared at me, hard. Thoughts of what I would do if she went crazy right there flashed through my mind in those long seconds; this had never happened to me before! Then she spoke:

“NEVER turn your back on your purse. [dramatic pause] My son is a manager at Walmart, and last week he had reports of five purses stolen in one day! Be careful, and either wear it or,” fingering the child’s seat belt in my cart and finally smiling a bit,”buckle it in like a baby!” Then she walked away. Feeling spanked, I repeatedly told her retreating figure how grateful I was for her warning. Yikes! I did buckle in my ‘baby’ after that, wondering if she was real, or maybe an angel sent from God to make sure I would have my wallet for the challenge to come.

As I was loading the belt to check out, I overheard the cashier tell the lady in front of me that Aldi didn’t take credit cards. She apparently came up with a little cash, and said something to the cashier about only getting the mayonnaise. When I got to the cashier, the thought popped into my head of paying for the items she had to put back. It was only a head of lettuce, some brown sugar, and a couple of cans of fruit. But, I argued within, by the time I paid and went out to the parking lot, she’d be gone, since she didn’t have a cart to put back or groceries to load into her car. I was really close to asking the cashier to put those items on my tab, but I honestly didn’t know if that is what I should have done. So I did nothing.

This lady wasn’t juggling a crying baby on her hip, and she didn’t look in any way impoverished; if she had, I would have had no trouble deciding what to do. But on the other hand, maybe she was needy in a spiritual sense, and by paying for her groceries I would have been giving her just the right encouragement to move forward. I’ll never know. But I do hope next time God will make it more clear if I am to step up and be part of the solution.

Through the rest of the day today I fought serious irritation, like skin-climbing, PMS, about-to-lose-it kind of feelings. Um, I’m 8 months pregnant, so what was my problem? It could have been that my brief time away by myself started me feeling entitled to things I really am not. It could have been just one of those days. It could have been subtle dehydration or hunger. But as I look back, maybe it was God answering that above prayer and letting me be part of the solution in my irritating daily life problems, deciding over and over whether I would give a boost to myself, or give grace to my husband and children. I can’t say I made the right decision each chance I had, but at least I knew for sure that at these times, the opportunities were for me and me alone.