Have you ever had God dig some pride out of your soul?
He does this to me a lot–I guess I need it greatly. I do often invite Him to take His Lion claws like in C. S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and tear away my dragon flesh, the thick scales I can’t peel off on my own, leaving me the way He wants me to be–the humble human in His image.
I was humming along week after week, depending on God for words to write in this blog, and sure enough, He faithfully provided, sometimes giving me the feeling of words being downloaded through my fingers into my WordPress document. Until He didn’t. I felt my failure keenly. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been spending enough time in His Word. Maybe it was to make me more dependent on Him, lessening my pride. Maybe it was for a reason I don’t know. At any rate, “the LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
I usually like to fulfill my word. If I say I’m going to do something, I don’t like to let a person down, especially when that someone is in need. At the end of this summer, though, I backed out of my commitment to tutor in my homeschool community when I realized the emotional and physical demands I would mostly likely be feeling as a foster parent in a few months. I left my director with no one to take my place, and that already overloaded woman almost had to take the position herself–praise the Lord that He provided someone excellent to step up in her place at the last minute. I knew I was following God when I told my director I couldn’t do the work after all, but how I felt my failure anyway, especially since I wished I could’ve figured it all out sooner. My pride of being responsible and dependable crashed. However, we must follow God’s call, even if doing so means disappointing someone else.
I’ve been homeschooling my kids since my oldest, now in 5th grade, was in preschool. They’ve been successful at learning, and they have achieved honors (probably mostly thanks to those beautiful brains they inherited from their philosophical father), but it became painfully apparent this past year that I wasn’t the best match for my daughter as her teacher. We researched and found an ideal fit for her in a tiny, Christian, classical school. She told me today she used to hate school but now she loves school. I’m ever so happy for her that she’s flourishing in this new place, but ouch! That school she hated was mine. I feel the failure again, and my pride sorely hurts. How I wanted to be enough for her, for all my children. However, I need to get to the point when I can join my voice in with Paul’s: “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (II Cor. 12:9).
If Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” (II Cor. 12:7) to keep him from exalting himself, I can probably expect to continue to receive from God’s hands ways to keep me from doing the same. I don’t enjoy these one bit–in fact, they usually sting–but I welcome them all the same because I long to please God, and I know that His Word instructs “all of you, [to] clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Pet. 5:5). In fact, grace is exactly what I need.