Tuesday, December 21, 2010

He Must Increase, I Must Decrease

I had my annual Christmas lunch with my before-we-were-married-roommates today. I love those girls. Women, really. Thirty years ago, we were working single young women looking for love and success, and it seems, in looking back that we were all in one accord in that our friendship was a vital link in our lives. Even though we see each other maybe three or four times a year (where we are all together), it never fails that when we are all together, it's just like we're still roommates pouring out our hopes, dreams and prayers to each other.

I love that our Father uses each of us to help the other in finding the missing piece of the puzzle that we've been looking for in our lives. My one friend talked today about how she had been spending a lot of time "fretting" (my word, not hers) about what was wrong in her life and how God "knocked up the side of the head" and told her to quit it; that to hear her talk, you'd never think she had a heavenly Father who had her back. He asked her how many families in the Bible she could remember who had no problems or trials in their families.

I remember thinking while she was talking that I would really like for the Lord to knock me up the side of the head once in a while.

I should have learned by now that when you are a follower of Jesus, you really should be careful what you wish for. Of course, you know what happened, right? No sooner had I gotten home from lunch and started pondering our conversation in light of things that had been happening in my life, than the Lord used it to knock me back into reality.

I've been feeling somewhat adrift this week. My prayer life has been dull. My worship has been forced. I've been fussing with my 11 year old who is home on Christmas break, and my husband is home sick with a really awful cold. Everyone seems to be on edge.

Maybe it's the holidays too, because this year I've felt lead to step back away from the holidays a bit. I've felt no inclination to decorate or buy gifts. I really think that I'm being lead away from taking part in a holiday that has been commercialized to the point where it has little mean to the majority of people and which really has no roots in Christianity at all. But now as I look at myself, I see that I've felt some self-righteousness about that. "Woo-hoo, look at me, I'm not taking part in all this hedonistic hoopla. Aren't I holy?".

The awareness of that started me looking at myself a little longer and seeing that while I have been praying for the holy spirit to increase and myself to decrease, there's still a lot of ugliness in me that I don't like and really want to get rid of.

I realized at lunch today that I felt a little envious of my one friend who is beautiful, older than me and looks younger, thin, vibrant and just got to re-carpet her whole house. I guess I was envious because I've been seeing myself as older than I'm supposed to be because of my physical condition, starting to show my age in wrinkles and weight (not so much gain but gravity), and after having been a successful business woman for years who could afford to buy and do pretty much whatever she wanted and who now is on a fixed income and can't afford to do much other than make ends meet, I felt sorry for myself. It hit me then, that I haven't conquered lust of the eyes. I'd like new carpet.

That made me realize that I haven't conquered the pride of life either. Because by being envious of her for being beautiful and younger looking and more vibrant, I was wanting to be proud of how I look and needing other people see me in ways that I no longer can be.

Add that to the fact that I already knew I hadn't conquered lust of the flesh yet because I struggle with focusing too much on food and buying clothing I don't need and (I'm sure) other such lusts of the flesh.

This all made me feel quite hopeless and defeated. Thank God for his holy spirit, whom Jesus called "the comforter". He came to me at that moment and reminded me that it's all because of Jesus that I have any righteousness. Yes, I am to keep trying to eliminate all sin in my life and live a holy and righteous life in the power of his spirit, but there is absolutely nothing I can do to earn my salvation. I am bought at a high cost, paid for entirely by the life Jesus Christ. He paid for my sins, the big ones and the petty ones; the simple ones and the complex ones, and it's only because of Him that I have any ability to stand before God.

I love my friends. They have been a mainstay of my life for 30 years. I would never want them to be hurt or lonely or without. I don't know why at that moment in time I was envious of one's relationship with God and the other's gifts of beauty, youth and extra cash for some new carpet, but I pray that God will forgive me. I love the Lord and I know He loves me. I can walk and move and think and for the most part I am healthy. I have a loving, caring husband and two children who I love very much. Are they perfect? No, but as described herein, neither am I. I have a nice home, more than enough to wear, eat and I'm warm and comfortable.

I can thank the Lord that every month He provides us with enough to make ends meet, along with some extras. Thanks to the Lord, we had extra money to give to the poor, to orphans, and to others who have much less than we do in addition to being able to support a couple of other small ministries this year.

It's a fine line to walk, but, how do I say this,...I know that by the grace of God I am doing better in resisting my flesh and my desire for stuff and needing human acknowledgement and accolades, but I also know that without the holy spirit nudging me in the direction of knowing that without Him I am nothing, I'd be right back in there, lusting, wanting and striving.

Sometimes I wonder, though, is it just me that struggles like this? It seems like I read an awful lot of Christian material that indicates that once you have the holy spirit you should not be susceptible to sinning like this.

I guess I will just keep on asking Him to increase and to let me decrease because I truly want people to see and hear Him and not me because I know that there is so little in me that is lovely or good.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post Kim, we all struggle.

    Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

    The fact that you care at all is a sign that you are His, struggling against your flesh and striving for holiness...not by our own power, but His.

    I also feel led to draw back from "Christmas" to an extent and I know how easily that can turn into a holier-than-thou attitude. ;)