Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pride & Brokenness

If it’s true that the humble in spirit
In the end are the ones to be blessed,
Then I’ll trade in the token of my human pride
For the treasure of brokenness.

If those who forgive, be forgiven,
Let me show mercy wherever I may.
And if pure is the heart, that will see Your face,
Oh Lord, purify me, I pray.

~ Norm Strauss, The Beatitude ~

Praying can be dangerous.

Well, not dangerous in the sense of being threatened with harm. But if living a comfortable, untroubled, unreflective life is your goal, then be careful how you pray.

During a time of corporate worship and prayer, God showed me something that I didn’t understand. Much like Jeremiah, Amos, and Zechariah, I saw a mental image that came “out of the blue”, so to speak, and it wasn’t immediately clear what it signified.

It was very similar to the picture at the top of this post, except that instead of a capillary system, it was a dead tree, bone-white and rotted, and its branches, twigs, and roots stretched throughout my body.

So, just as Jerry, Amos & Zeke did in the Old Testament, I asked the Lord what it meant.

God didn’t miss a beat. “It’s PRIDE, Robby, and it’s everywhere.”

Ouch. A core issue. Quitting smoking would have been easier (especially since I wasn’t a smoker). And I was prepared to argue, because I knew a fair number of people whose arrogance was legendary. Compared to them… Yes, I know, it was a feeble attempt to deflect.
When you ask God to speak, and He does, it’s best not to try to tell Him how to do His business.
And so began the deeper work of learning — and choosing — humility.

A few months later, I was at a Worship Festival in Langley BC, and one of the workshops I attended was led by singer/songwriter Brian Doerksen. He spoke on a range of issues specific to worship leaders, but his main focus was on character. Brian ended his session with an inspirational and stirring challenge to all the worship leaders in attendance to — as he called it — “enroll in the school of brokenness”.

The picture that God had shown me just a couple of months earlier was foremost in my mind as I joined about half of those present at the front of the room to receive prayer and ‘enroll’.

And God has been faithful to answer that prayer as my journey continues to unfold. I can be stubborn at times, and as much as I want to embrace humility & brokenness, it’s not a ‘default setting’ (not yet, anyway). And the pervasive allure of social media — ‘look at me! look at me!’ — is just one area where I have to regularly check my heart ’n’ attitude: “why am I posting this?”

And in each situation in life where something goes sideways, I get another opportunity to take the high road by choosing the low road.

It’s a work in progress, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this:
God is more interested in our character than our success.
And as Brian taught us, years ago, isn’t becoming more Christ-like our goal?

Hence my continued enrollment in the School of Brokenness.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018: Pressing On

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14)

It’s not so much about making a “New Year’s resolution” per se.
It’s more about resolutely devoting my time, energy, and attention to what I already know is truly important.