Humility gives us the sacred gift of being able to learn from everyone. It gives us the ability to take advice from any person who gives it, not just the brilliant or the holy or the great, but from the simple and the ignorant and from those who may be far below our own position or station in life. It gives us the power to imitate Christ himself, who learned from Peter how to catch fish, and from Joseph how to make tables, and from Mary how to eat. It gives us the power to learn, even from those who do not appeal to us at all, whom we may not like very much.
The humble person knows he doesn’t know all things, knows that good advice, no matter what the source, is a rare gift, a gift that helps develop the wonder of self-knowledge. Very often, it is from people we may not like very much, or from people who are a little nasty and mean, that we learn how deep our pride is in reality and how far we still have to go before we have reached any real degree of humility. For such people will tell us what they think of us, will give us advice without bothering to be nice about it, will show us quite brilliantly and quite cuttingly, too, by the way, how proud we really are.
Real humility will give us the power to accept such words, and though they may hurt because we are still human, we will be able to take them and because of them grow even closer to Christ.” – Excerpted from “With God in America” by Walter Ciszek, compiled and edited by John M. DeJak and Marc Lindeijer, S.J.
Now the fuse: “Very often, it is from people we may not like very much, or from people who are a little nasty and mean, that we learn how deep our pride is in reality and how far we still have to go before we have reached any real degree of humility. “
Now the match: “It gives us the abilityto take advice from any person who gives it, not just the brilliantor the holy or the great, but from the simple and the ignorant and from those who may be far below our own position or station in life. Itgives us the power to imitate Christ himself, who learned from Peter how to catch fish, and from Joseph how to make tables, and from Mary how to eat. It gives us the power to learn, even from those who do not appeal to us at all, whom we may not like very much.”
Grrrrrrrrr …. !!!!
The God Soft Hands Jesus I know doesn’t look at you and me and see one He does not like (very much) – does not see you and me as nasty and mean (a little) – does not see how proud we are (really). He has no time for conditional measures. He accepts imperfect as perfect. He loves me. As. I. Am.
Yet here we have a godly writing telling us we are not good enough. A godly writing telling us to measure “it”. Telling us to measure the “degree” of “it” we have achieved. To seek to grow closer by measuring “it” to see if “it” is getting bigger. As big as Christ’s “it”. And illustrates “it” by saying “it” is okay to “not like” some people, that “it” is okay to find some people “nasty and mean” (a little!).
And the consequence?
Godly folk continue to justify being judgmental – to justify being able to love you “only” this much – to justify being “good Christians” who are close to God – and who justify labeling (some) people as nasty and mean – as not likeable – with the godly trump card: “We are just (still) human”.
NEWSFLASH:I will be “still human” my whole life.
So just why does the institution of godliness teach everything as an “it” when they also teach that my God Soft Hands Jesus does not look at me as a collection of “it’s”? Why do they teach that my GSHJ sees me imperfect and yet loves me without condition? Why do they teach that love without condition cannot measure how much “condition” or “uncondition” … that love is not an “it” to be measured …
And then teach all the “it’s” AND the real biggie (the biggie that godly institutions and good Christians have made exclusively their own):
“We are (still?) human – therefore I cannot (so you must not) love unconditionally. God says.”
I just learned of this when it posted to my site this afternoon. My sister in Christ had free reign to my WP administrator. I emailed her Tuesday taking for granted we would “speak” once more. I don’t know how Susan managed to tell me goodbye, but she will be sorely missed. Prayers, please, for her family.
I met Susan in 1990, and knew that God had put her on my heart the moment we met. Through the years we had the closest relationship both before she came to know Jesus, as well as after. She was always the one who was good with the words, and could always express what I wanted to say. Words escape me, other than to say that I have never known a deeper, truer bond than the one she and I shared.
She passed away at her home here in Brentwood, CA of a sudden heart attack, yesterday morning at 9:48am. They tell me that she did not suffer and that there was nothing they could do for her.
Proverbs 17:17 says that “A friend loves at all times” , and I can tell you that SHE LOVED AT ALL TIMES.
Although I will miss her terribly, I look forward to…
“Most people want to help make this world a better place but many do not know where to start. I have found that the first place to start is right in my own head.
If I do a good job there, I can work outwards from there and bless others. This site is a personal blog about the things I need to keep telling myself – not too many things. Just the simple fact that very little is required to make life happy.
As simple as that sounds, I need to prove it in my mind everyday, time and again. I do this through my passion for prose, free verses and non-factional opinions. I do this because the dark valleys of life often slide in unannounced. Nonetheless, as the saying goes, it is still better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
My joy will multiply if these musings ever help anyone that stumbles on them .”
I believe in connections. I believe God Soft Hands Jesus moves across these blogs. I believe my GSHJ invites me to move in connection.
One simple “like” from a name unknown. One unexplained sense to have a look. A landing page post not written for me. So why this sense it is of He? To the “About” page to look behind, to taste the sweat of another on a keyboard far away. And here is why, here is He. This is why He whispered so quietly in me.
“Most people want to help make this world a better place but many do not know where to start. I have found that the first place to start is right in my own head.”
A better place – yes! But what can I do? I am only me. No one listens to me. I can’t change anything or anyone. Not really. Not like I see others change lives. Not like others have changed me. Ah well … maybe one day …
“As simple as that sounds, I need to prove it in my mind everyday, time and again.”
A long time ago I watched a video. The speaker was inspirational. One of those guru type inspirational speakers. I have seen a few. I have even met a few. And I have thought myself changed. The memory is of this speaker painting a picture. Of approaching the Pearly Gates and being asked in breathless excitement, “How many did you bring me?” How many saved souls. How many lives changed. “How many did you bring me?”
I looked behind me and saw no one. And as well as inspired I was unworthy. I brought no one. Only me. And here was this speaker. He would have thousands behind him. We all should have thousands behind us. And I saw no one. Make disciples. Preach the Good News. Save souls from an eternity of separation. Bring thousands. It is the clarion call I hear again and again. Revival. Mission. Outreach. Education. Junior Church. Mega Church. Where did you find God this weekend. When did you last admit you are a Christian. Why are not at church each Sunday. Wait until you become a mature Christian.
And I saw no one.
It took several years for GSHJ to get through my thick skull. He used others. He took the direct route. He never gave up on my giving up. And slowly – bit by bit – I began to hear.
The biggest gift – the best gift – the ONLY gift I can ever bring … is me. The only “How many did you bring me?” my God Soft Hands Jesus ever wanted was …
And it took me years to get that. It took me years for me to get the “why”. And my getting it – my “why” – is mine alone.
But what I hear Him ask is this.
“Tell them I have no number other than one. Tell them one is all there ever is. One is all and all is one. Forget the big numbers. Forget the worldly measure of “success”. Forget the inspiration that tastes good in the mouth yet leaves your stomach sick. Tell them I do not count and never have. Tell them I never will. I will never judge thirty years “service” better than none. I will never applaud headcount other than one to one. I will never hold higher one who gave more. For if you give you – there can never be “more”. Counting is conditions and conditional love. That is why I only see one. Unconditional never compares. Unconditional love always shares. Love without condition will never count. Not more than one in one right now.”
For all those who think “my blog is not enough” …
One simple “like” from a name unknown. One unexplained sense to have a look. And here is why, here is He. This is why He whispered so quietly in me.
Who is this “name unknown” my GSHJ invited me to … ? It is –
I have had a few birthdays. I know the routine. Decade ones are extra effort all round. In-betweenies are much the same – great fun and special (give or take a few giggles here and a few less giggles there).
Bu I have never written this about any birthday:
“We didn’t speak the same language, but we did speak music. We did speak joy.”
BBB does. Even on her own very special day BBB connects with something that draws me in (and a big bunch of others!). So here is her birthday post. Why not see if she draws you in?
(as always, for reblogs, comments are closed here – BBB replies to every comment – no matter how many there are – thank you)
And I’ll tell you what…if there’s one thing I took away from the day, aside from how special friends and loved ones are, it’s how infinitely beautiful and diverse the culture is in NYC.
Indulge me for a moment.
Yesterday was one of those days that literally goes on forever. I kid you not, I think I saw just about every walk of life in one afternoon.
My friend and I went to The Cloisters – which is a monastery-turned MET art gallery way up in Washington Heights, where we heard probably 5 different languages from the myriad of European tourists taking in our *culture.*
The rest of the day consisted of a walk through The Bronx, getting lost in Spanish Harlem, happy hour at a Puerto Rican bar in Harlem, dinner at an uppity/cross-fit/health nut/vegan place downtown in Greenwich Village, drinks at a…
We all know the story, don’t we? Zacharias (an “official” “ordained-type” priest) goes in his proper time to offer incense within the Temple. The Angel Gabriel appears to him there, announcing the upcoming birth of John the Baptist, along with his role as forerunner and preparer of the way of the Lord.
Zacharias responds, objecting, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” [v. 18] Gabriel then identifies himself by name, and declares that Zacharias will be mute until his words were fulfilled.
Time passes and so things come about. Zacharias regains his voice finally upon naming his son “John” at his circumcision, in response to community objections because this is not family name of their line.
We all know this story, too, don’t we? We see this played out in Christmas pageants almost annually, no? The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary, declares her favored, calms her confusion, and announces that she will conceive the Son of the Most High and name Him Jesus.
Mary seems to respond much as did Zacharias, pointing out a physical incongruity as she says, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” [v. 34]
But far from punishing her, as it could seem Gabriel did to Zacharias, the angel answers graciously with not only the answer to her question (that the power of the Most High would overshadow her), but he gives her an additional sign declaring that Elizabeth (her kinswoman) is six months along expecting the birth of John. Their exchange ends with “’nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” [vv. 37-38]
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So, like, am I the only one who ever wondered, “what’s the difference here?”
Zacharias clearly ticked Gabriel off, while Mary didn’t. It’s one thing to point to the “rank order” difference between them. There’s certainly a difference of “graciousness” between them. Lots of flavorful differences, but I always sensed there was more here than that.
And… why should we care? What difference does, or should, it make to us… to you and me… here and now… why these two encounters went the way they did?
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I think the answer to both questions is the same one… “Faith”.
The difference between the two encounters is “Faith”. And the reason we should care, is also “Faith”.
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It never dawned on me, until very recently, that Zacharias… even faced as he was with the terrifying countenance of an Angel of God Almighty… doubted the truth of his words. Even INSIDE the Temple, standing next to the Altar of Incense as he offered up incense to God!
All of Gabriel’s words spoke to FUTURE events, not present events. Zacharias was going to have to go from that place, be with his wife in the proper time, conceive John, and watch nature take its course for the next nine months.
But that wasn’t good enough for Zacharias. He says, “how will I know this for certain?” (We know italicized words are inserted by editors.) So he wants to know, right here, right now, why he should believe Gabriel. Waiting apparently isn’t good enough. (We know for certain that the issue is doubt, because Gabriel tells us that.) Zacharias is rendered mute until all was fulfilled “because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” [v. 20]
Zacharias needed to know these things were true before he was willing to do his part. Clearly, his part in this miracle would be of crucial importance. It was he and Elizabeth who needed to conceive this child. But before he would go to that trouble, before he would dare go communicate this to Elizabeth, before he would risk Elizabeth’s heartbreak, disappointment, or disgrace… he had to have a sign. He had to KNOW this was true, before he could obey.
Gabriel gives him an unmistakable sign of his authority and power, using his words alone to stop all words for Zacharias until the truth was borne out.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
So what is different about Mary? She, too, asks a “how” question.
The difference is that her question is one of “means”, not “verification”. She was perplexed at the appearance of Gabriel, not terrified. Gabriel declares the upcoming conception, birth, and kingship of Jesus, and Mary does not express doubt at the announcement. Rather, she asks how this is to come about, what is she to do? She knows she is virgin. Is that to change for this miracle? How should she obey the will of God?
Gabriel responds to the “how” of the question… that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” [v. 34-35] (By the way, that word “overshadow” only appears 5 times in the New Testament. Once here; then three times referring to the Cloud around Jesus, Moses, and Elijah in the time of the Transfiguration that came upon (and terrified) Peter, James and John, from which came the Voice saying “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”[Luke 9:34-35]; and third when Peter’s shadow heals the sick [Acts 5:15].)
Unsolicited, Gabriel offers Mary the sign of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Mary yields unconditionally to God’s will and embraces Gabriel’s words, the hurries off to aid Elizabeth in her first pregnancy. Isn’t it interesting that Elizabeth had only “come out”, publicly acknowledging her pregnancy in the month before Mary’s arrival? No way was Elizabeth going to endure the risk of disappointment had she miscarried, or been merely deluded into thinking she was pregnant. She would not face either the jibes or the condescending looks of other village women as her face began to round and her figure became more full. She was an elder of her town, disgraced by the curse of barrenness perhaps, but nonetheless righteous and dignified of demeanor. She would not be mocked.
But by the time Mary arrives, Elizabeth KNOWS. She knows for sure that she carries life within her. The baby has quickened, and for the first time she has the glorious sensation of life moving inside her as he responds to her motions or sounds around them. No words describe the joy of hugging new life with your very self, as a woman can in this time.
Mary comes, calls out in greeting, and the Holy Spirit already filling John [v. 15] now fills Elizabeth as well, and her joyful encounter with Mary as they attend to one another’s needs for the next three months (Elizabeth’s third trimester, Mary’s first), offers blessing to them both. Even as I type those words, I can only pause and wonder in awe at what those months must have been like. What would evenings have been like in such a home? Zacharias silent (no choice there), Elizabeth growing ever more excited even as getting around gets more difficult and stilted, and Mary finding her appetite less predictable, perhaps napping now and again, and sensing the changes in her body as the Christ waxes in form…
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What does all this mean to us, Gentle Reader?
Well, God does the impossible all the time. For those who are ready and seek Him, miracles are all around.
When they come, sometimes they are hard to believe in. That’s just the truth. But! When one is willing to yield to them, God grants. When one is willing if and only if there is a sign attesting to the truth… well, God accommodates and a sign will be given. We see this over and over again throughout the Scriptures (Gideon, etc.) However, as we see from this text, while faith that may be, it is a flawed sort of faith. (I, for one, have engaged in such flawed faith countless times, so no judgment here!)
But there’s another kind of faith. There’s a faith that takes a truth on the authority of the speaker, and simply says “Yes!” before it asks “How?”
There, I think is both the difference between the two Gabriel missions, and the significance to us today.
Zacharias wanted proof before he would act. Mary was willing to act before any proof was offered.
Both were engaged in astonishing blessing and miracle. Zacharias just had to go about it with a bit more inconvenience. That and, frankly, their lingering doubts certainly would have robbed him and Elizabeth of months of joy and consolation.
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The Holy Spirit, the overshadowing Power of the Lord Most High, certainly wins out in every miracle. Let us simply say “Yes!” first, ask “How?” afterwards, and watch events unfold!
And – as sometimes I do – browsing the first few blog posts at “brunette’s place” turned into a good old read and click to follow her blog. Here is why …
There is much written about global politics and the “war on terror”. But I think “brunette” captures something very special. Something very good. Something of what I know my God wishes for us all. Something universal and timeless. Something too good not to share.
And I hope you agree ((hugs))
(and – as usual – likes and comments are disabled here, please add any thoughts under BK’s (aka FTKT) lovely post – thank you)
So it’s fair to say that’s it’s been a rough couple of weeks for the UK. And I have to say that I’m so thankful to live in a country with decent gun control laws.
“Terrorism” has been something I’ve been aware of all my life. We were dealing with it long before September 11th 2001 before a certain American made it purely to be synonymous with “Islam”. Some of my earliest memories are of the Lockerbie bombing on the news and being evacuated from shopping centres because of IRA bomb threats. My friends who grew up in Northern Ireland have even more memories of what “terrorism” meant. Bombs and checkpoints were just part of daily life there for a long time.
I saw on social media before news officially broke that something had happened in Manchester. My friend posted a warning telling everyone to stay out the city centre because…