My ego’s bubble gets burst

bubbleThoughts on Mark 9:30-37

You begin some serious teaching. You secretly take your disciples on an intensive crash course on what it means for you to be the savior of the world. You tell them about your upcoming betrayal, death and resurrection. They don’t get it at all, maybe they were afraid to appear dumb so they didn’t ask for an explanation. Or maybe they were hoping that if they ignored the topic, you’d quit talking about dying. They wanted to talk about the coming of the kingdom, it’s glory and their elevated role in its institution. But given the opportunity to talk about it, they were silent. At least they had sense enough to know such discussions would not please you. Good teacher that you are, you used this moment to teach them two important lessons of the Kingdom life; one advances in the Kingdom by letting others go ahead and by honoring the powerless.

A lesson I need to be reminded of over and over again. Sure I talk about desiring the Kingdom to advance, but I find myself envious when you use other people to move it forward. I hear of the popularity of other people’s blogs and my ego begins it’s mild, but persistent outrage. Her writing isn’t any better than mine, why don’t people “like” and “share” my posts? Why can’t I write as well as her? I try to be content with being a two talent gal and not resent those who have been given five talents, but it’s hard. Such ego flares are prophetic. They remind me of just how far I am from your humility.

I remember what William Law says about such outbursts of pride in his book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. Basically he says that when others cause me envy, I am to pray for the other; pray that God will bless and prosper them in in the very thing that arouses my envy; pray for God to grant them happiness in regard to their writing and ministry. He says that “praying thusly will cause the devil to leave off of this temptation since it leads to greater love of the other and greater humility to the self.”

Yikes. Oh Lord, your correction bursts the inflated bubble of my ego’s need to be preferred. Grant me the grace to gratefully receive and invest the two talents you’ve given me. Bless Jennifer and Susan and Micha and all the other five talent women who use their gifts to forward your kingdom. Honor them and increase their harvest for your sake. Amen

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Decision to make? try solitude

Mark 1:35-39

Everyone agreed, townspeople and disciples alike, there was a lot of work left to be done in Capernaum. Jesus had barely scratched the surface last night; he healed some of the sick and cast out some of the demons but not all of them. There were plenty more people in this town that needed his healing touch.

They all went searching for him the next morning, but couldn’t find him. Simon knew where to look for him though. He was used to Jesus’ early morning disappearances. He and his companions found Jesus in a deserted place, praying. In an almost chiding tone, Simon asked, “Where have you been? Everybody’s searching for you.” Suggesting, “Come on Jesus, we all want you to finish the work you started.”

Jesus had a different plan, though. Having spent time alone with his Father, he knew what he needed to do. He was to go into the other villages, proclaim the good news and bring with him healing and wholeness. Jesus went against popular opinion and listened to God’s opinion.

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Notice that Jesus didn’t get to all the people who needed his healing touch. Being God, Jesus could have cured all who crowded around the door with a single word; but being human, he was limited by time and space, he could only touch so many people in any given hour. This demonstrates the way God desires to interact with us. God’s healing word is not a one-size-fits-all kind of healing. It is personal and customized to address your particular needs. God deals differently with your neighbor than the way God deals with you. Can you trust God’s goodness, even when it appears your prayers are not being answered?

Notice that Jesus was not swayed by the people’s expectations or their apparent needs. His time alone with his Father grounded him in his life’s purpose and directed his life’s course. He was to bring the good news to all the villages, not to be a vending machine dispensing healing on demand. When you are at a decision point in your life, make time talking with God your highest priority. Let your choice be guided by your life’s purpose.

Written for CBC’s weekly devotional