Mom's Mosiac

Mom's Mosiac
A MOSIAC OF TLC's SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDREN

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

HUMILITY

Included are some wierd and wonderful pictures

of the world around TLC

and some of my favourite sights.

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Our African Dawn

Humility
 
Introduction:

A lot of this post was written while I was down at the coast in October.  I don't believe it was really intended as a blogpost, but rather as a kind of 'muse' or journal entry.  It so often intrigues me how our lives and those with whom we have relationships are folded into each other so closely that even someone who lives 8000 kilometres away, might sometimes go through an identical experience as mine.

Often I get letters and I think ... "Oh, I know that feeling!"  or, "Gosh, I have just had to deal with that myself."  And if there is any good reason why we need to endure hardships, I feel sure it is for this reason.  That we are able to give comfort and counseling where needed.  Not theoretical, but experiencial.

So, with this in mind, then, I am going to upload this post.  It's quite unique as a blogpost.  But I really feel that somewhere out there, somebody needs it and will be greatly helped by it.


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Having first arrived and settled down in my little seaside cottage in Ramsgate, in October last year, the foremost problem I encountered was the serious matter of having forgotten my bible at home.  This created a dilemma for me because a large part of my enthusiasm for going down there was to spend time in prayer and reflection which, as you would expect, requires a bible.  Or so I thought.  Quite naturally, I firmly believed (and still do) that the very best way to hear God’s voice is through reading his Sacred Word.

Our African Sunset
So now, here I was – three weeks of peace and quiet ahead of me and no bible!  Of course it would be a short answer to go and buy a new bible.  But that would not be my bible!  ‘My old friend’, as I like to call it.  Fully practising Christians will relate to what I am saying.
 
So therefore, I did not consider it a co-incidence in the least that on my second night there (when maintenance man, Chris, had already fixed my TV) that I watched a movie called ... something like “Healing Hands”.  It was a beautiful and true story about a poor, black boy in the USA who, against all the odds, becomes a famous neurosurgeon.   That aside, somewhere in the story the boy’s mother tells him robustly ... “You don’t need the book!  You have the book within you!”  And right there, God takes those words – shapes them to fit my need of a bible – and delivers them directly into my heart!

Bronkhorstfontein Area where we live
Actually, what liberty I gained from this!  Of course, I always knew that “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee”, and that God's Word does, indeed, do its mighty work right there inside our hearts, and from there translates itself into our lives every single day.  That’s not to say that it was time to throw away my bible.  No!  By no means; but I now fully realised, more than ever before, that I didn't need that material book as the answer to my every need, for I do have that living word inside of me.

A double rainbow over volunteer cottages
So then, what did occupy my mind in that time of solitude?

The answer would have to be, without hesitation, that it was the subject of ‘humility’.  Yes, I agree ~ a hefty subject, indeed, and you often find the most inappropriate people trying to deal with it.

Therefore, I touch the very subject with fear and trembling, lest I am judged inappropriate myself!  At the same time, I am reminded of my dear friend, Fr. Gregory, who once shared with me this deep truth:  “You need to be wary of your fellow Christians, for when they sense the slightest humbleness in you they will immediately set about fashioning a badge, so that you may be proud of your humility!” J


Nevertheless, I felt that if I did not deal with the subject that had so thoroughly been my contemplation and meditation in at least two of my last three weeks at Ramsgate then I should have ceased writing immediately because there would have been very little left to say! J
Our first and last snow fall in 2003

Only now, 4 months later, have I plucked up the courage to re-read this piece, edit it and actually post it on the blog.

So, how did it happen that I should stumble upon ‘humility’ as the source and subject of my preoccupation?  Well, it happened like this:
For the past seven years I have carried around with me an unceasing, enduring and agonising pain in my heart.  People have given it a whole litany of names and many have gone to great pains to explain its origin (such as heredity, etc.) and how to deal with it to affect a sure cure.

A beautiful snow picture
But still, in spite of all, I lumber on through life with this excruciating pain in the depths of my being.  I have come to believe and finally accept that I will take it to my grave.  That I have somehow acquired a love, so extraordinarily strong, that once it takes possession of someone or something, I simply cannot let go, no matter what.

As tragic as this sounds, and even more tragic as it is to accept – acceptance, indeed, seems the only hope of exercising any kind of mastering over it.  I am speaking of course, about the failure of my marriage.

In my exercise of pondering humility, some clues began to present themselves, not only as possible explanations for my present condition but also its cure.  Could it be that this detestable, agonising pain had found its perfect seat in the pride of my heart?  What a big question!
A Watery Sunset
 
The reality that the situation occurred and that it was unavoidable is, of course, a settled matter.  But what is unrealistic and unnecessary is the fact that it is being dragged along with me like Christian’s (of Pilgrim’s Progress) oversized burden, as if it were a crippling penance.

In retyping my book, (before I decided to relinquish the task), I came across this paragraph:

‘I was deeply aware that the big “I” had managed to become much smaller and more insignificant, and Jesus was able to take up much more of the slack.  I was able to place every new day of my life into my Saviour’s hands.  I could say, with all my heart, “Take it, Lord, and make it yours.”’

I clearly remember that day at Bible School when the massive revelation first hit me ... that humility was the only means by which to honour and serve God.  Indeed, humility was the only path and door by which we can even discover God in order to commune with him.  Humility!  ‘The ability to make yourself small and insignificant’.  Completely emptied of self.   Completely emptied of self.   I became convinced, this was the key.

Neighbouring Squatter houses (Since been removed)

As the lecturer who brought the message stood in the lectern that day and preached, I marvelled at the receptacle; the bearer of this message.  For here was a man not given to humility by any manner or means.  In fact, Humility was a subject little preached in that church as a general rule. 

But clearly, in a Bible College, the subject needs to be covered as part of the syllabus, even if it is not actively practised by any of its hierarchy.   I have realised since then, that we should never judge the messenger ... and this man was merely a messenger.  When our hearts open freely to the Spirit; like a flower opens effortlessly to the call of nature; in acknowledgement that a message is inspired by God, we will know it is safe to receive from that message whatever gift and grace God wishes to bestow.  "I am the Good Shepherd.  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" John 10.27"
One of my favourite sights : A well attended local church in the veld
The funny story is often told about how God once used a donkey through which he spoke to a man called Balaam.  Balaam is what we call a “seer”, a pagan prophet for profit, hired out by Balak, the king of the Moabites. He was a very influential sorcerer who, although aware of the true God, made his services available on a freelance basis.  Very interesting, isn’t it?  More to that than meets the eye particularly in view of my experiences in Rhema which was so much a part of my book.
 
Nevertheless, the point I am trying to make is that the ears of our hearts should be ever listening for that still, small voice with which God so often speaks through any vessel.  Sometimes the most surprising, unpredictable and seemingly inappropriate.  Many times little children!  (“Out of the mouths of babes and infants I have ordained my praise”) Psalm 8.2

Another TLC Sunset
I think I have often mentioned to my blog friends, that I don’t simply type up my message on the blog and post it immediately.  No, no!  Would that it were that simple!  There is a lot of reflection, deliberation and editing that goes into this process.  And God, too, must have his say.

For instance, I have an old A4 diary from yesteryear that I carry around with me and I write all the little things that God speaks to me on a daily basis, in there.  Sometimes these are just small insights.  It could be a great personal revelation, which, to someone else, might be a “ho-hum” fact!    They could be useful lessons I have learned through another person.  There might be wise sayings I received from any source; a homily, an inspirational quotation, something from the TV or radio ... just about anything that touches my mind or heart that I deem significant.

A Bronkhorstfontein Dawn
I don’t always write them in that diary directly.  Sometimes I jot them down on paper, and pop them in the book when I’m tidying up, clearing out my handbag, or whatever.  I just think it is important for you to envisage how all this occurs and gets put together.

When I am immersed in serious thought and writing, I very, very seldom type something directly onto my computer as a first draft.  For some reason, God seems to speak to me much more clearly and eloquently through the written word.  So I write my first draft out by hand and my most successful time for doing this is nearly always first thing in the morning, before anything has been able to turn my mind to worldly things, however insignificant.
 
I usually write it into that very same old diary.  When that diary gets filled up, I find another old diary.  (It’s really funny because I buy a diary every year with good intentions, but I rarely use them for their real purpose, past January.)
 
Then, like fixing together a jigsaw puzzle, I start to assemble the work making use of many of these small bits and pieces. The jotted down verses, paragraphs, quotes, parts of homilies, etc. that pertain to my subject.  God somehow never fails to make something valuable come out of all that.  (Well, I hope it’s valuable).  It seems to me at least ... usually, to have great value.

A wierd, UFO-Looking thing behind the outside fridge taken from our kitchen
So, in the course of this process I have come to see humility again, through fresh eyes.  What both life and study have taught me about humility so far, is simply this:

It is the sense that only through our smallness; no, actually, through our entire nothingness, we are able to come to see how completely God, as our creator, is all and everything.  This realisation of our nothingness is the state of being that enables us to give way so completely that it makes God free to be all.

In the life of sincere Christians ... of those who pursue and profess holiness ... humility ought to be the chief mark of their uprightness.  Sadly my dear friends, in my experience, that is too often not the case.  Yet there should not be a single reason why, in the teaching and the example of the church, humility does not have that place of supreme importance.


Farm labourers' accommodation
3M X 3M rooms that accommodate
whole families with no running water
 
It is owing to the neglect of this truth ... that as strong as sin is a barrier against humility ... there is a motive of still wider and mightier influence.  It is that motive that makes the angels; that made Jesus; and that makes the holiest of the saints in heaven so humble; it is that first and chief mark of their relationship to God ... which is also the secret of our blessedness.  Our humility and nothingness, that leaves God free to be all.

The driving force that led me out of the “Faith Movement” and back into the Catholic Church was the discomfort I experienced with the lack of meekness and lowliness of heart, which are subjects scarcely touched upon in that environment.  In fact, they are almost scorned.  I have to admit that pride and arrogance are not preached either, but they are certainly practiced.

Our famous Willow Tree
Yet, what, as a child, I had imbibed from my Catholic upbringing was that meekness and humility of heart were expected to be the distinguishing feature of the disciple, as they were in the life of Jesus.  Still more importantly, I learned there that this humility is not a ‘something’ of itself to be easily possessed, but that it had to be made the object of special desire and prayer and faith and practice.

Even as we diligently studied the Word of God in Bible College, we saw for ourselves in God's Word not only the clear model of Jesus’ life of humility, but also the very distinct and often repeated instructions Jesus gave his disciples on this point.  Yet, I frequently marvelled that in spite of seeing how slow Jesus’ disciples were in understanding him, so too, my fellow classmates and even the lecturers and hierarchy of the church seemed incapable of translating these clear messages of humility, into practice.  

At that stage of my life I was searching, you see, for a role model.  A living example.  Someone I could emulate.  In the Catholic Church we have these examples in the lives of the saints (albeit that they are historical examples).  But in the Rhema environment there were no such examples.


Sunset through the bluegum trees
So I came to realise that human souls were not the answer.  Maybe they were never meant to be the answer.  For I learned that only when we diligently study the character of Christ until our souls are so filled and infused with love and admiration of Jesus’ lowliness, will we come to fully comprehend his message.  When we have become completely broken down in the sense of our own self importance and pride and our own inability to cast it out, only then will Jesus Christ himself come in to impart this grace too, as part of his wondrous life within us.


The Lane Across from our Road
When we realise that this is our true nobility and can sense it enough to make every sacrifice to allow it to take root, then it can become, combined with our will, our mind and our affections ... the very form, or the vessel, in which the full life and glory of God will work and manifest in our beings.  Then we will also see clearly that humility is simply acknowledging the truth of our position as creature and yielding to God his place.  Not only this, but the most beautiful realisation is that Jesus, as true God, was, in his true humanity; humility personified.

Only a fool would ever assume that attaining this true nobility is a simple task.  Or even one that, having once possessed it, it is yours forever.  No, I wish it were that simple, but if it were, then it would not be so precious!  It is this fact of the pain in my heart that I mentioned before, and the likelihood of it’s having found a seat in the pride of my heart, that makes me once again attentive to the constant aggressing factor of pride at work in our lives at all times.

It also clarifies, once again, how little we understand humility even to conclude that it would have been a simple case to have emptied myself of my “self” much earlier.   No, what we need to realise and admit is that there is nothing as natural to man, nothing as insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing as difficult and dangerous as pride.   If we can only fully realise that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will reveal how lacking we are in the grace of humility and how impotent we are to either obtain or defend it without our constant perseverance and waiting on God and Christ as our daily act of worship.

My prayer is this ... that God may grant light to this little message on humility so that, if there are any of you reading it who have gained some useful insight, he may bless you and hasten your deliverance and healing, as he does mine.  And as I persevere in my pursuit of the peace that is the fruit of humility, I will attempt to bring you some of the lessons I am learning along the way in the hope that they may encourage you on your journey also.

God bless you all!                                                           
With all my love,

4 comments:

  1. Thanks Thea... always close to my heart

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks Thea. this blog has been really thought provoking, 'humililty' what do I understand by it.makes me want to go to God's word, & learn more
    ]thanks Thea

    Anne xxx

    ReplyDelete