Identity and Humility

I recently came across a beautiful poem that I would love to share with you:

IF – Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

This powerful poem brought to mind two key constructs  – Identity and humility, and by humility, I mean a real and intent filled preference for the will of God

By myself I cannot simply be all that this beautiful poem embodies. I personally do not think anyone can attain to it

I look at the essence of the poem and the only way I can get there is through Christ, through my identity being rooted in Christ’s sacrifice for me. Why? Because the essence of “If” points to an identity that is firm and not tossed to and fro by the whims of life.

Without the right identity, “If” is simply a collection of noble words that rings hollow, just like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal

When I start grasping (which implies more than head knowledge) what Christ has so graciously done for me, I start becoming the type of person who wears this world loosely and carries myself lightly  i.e. I start morphing into Christlikeness.

Essentially, I become the one who denies himself, picks up his cross and follow Christ. And what is this posture if not that of humility?

Therefore, the leanings of my identity is a foundation for the posture of my heart, which is an expression on the continuum of pride and humility.

“If” reminds me of my desperate need for Christ, and calls me to redefine what I value and esteem. I am reminded that perhaps the success metrics I employ are deeply flawed.

Instead I am nudged to make Christ my ultimate treasure! So help me Abba

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up…Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Identity and Humility

Do not waste your weaknesses

Ps 46:1-5

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Do not waste your weaknesses and flaws. As much as it might be hard work re-orienting how we see our weaknesses, do not hide from them or quickly shuffle them under nice categories in your mind.

Rather explore those weaknesses.

Become intimate with your weaknesses, which are likely symptoms. More importantly, get to know the root issues. Of course, I would ask that you apply caution and wisdom if diving into these things brings an unhealthy level of condemnation. If so, I suggest you dive into these things with someone who can help mediate the grace of God to you

Ps 139:23-24 is always helpful for me when I engage in some soul searching. I am reminded that this is not a witch hunt but a “knowing” that is empowered by the Holy Spirit. He is the one doing the searching (more like unveiling) and he is the one that determines the way we should go.

Ps 46:1 speaks of God as a companion who is exceedingly available to us, especially in the midst of trouble. It’s like he can’t wait to help but please remember that He is the Sovereign King and how he decides to help is best. He will not necessarily conform to what you want, and He acts in love not simply to play games or punish. Maybe the right approach is to be humble enough to receive his help because if we could fix things, we would’ve already.

Be humble – admit your powerlessness and cry to Him for help. There is little need for dramatics, only an honest longing is required.

This is the first step in not wasting your weaknesses. Humility is a real and intent filled preference for the way of God. Desire his way of doing things, get wisdom through the mundane routine activities you engage in.

Verse 2 to 3 aptly describes what we are familiar with and we only need look at our lives, especially our inner world and we see traces, if not the the same picture portrayed in the aforementioned verses. These verses point to the instability of the world all around us. It’s almost like things are moving in reverse of creation language in Genesis. Something de-creation like seems to be happening.

In verse 4, the “there is” is actually not present in the original language and it is added as an interpretive rendering. When you remove it, it becomes clear that the raging seas in verse 2 to 3 is what God has made into a river (and we get this impression of a calm, gently flowing, powerful, yet life giving river) that makes glad the dwelling place of the Most High.  The city of God likely refers to the temple of God, a place of worship and we have become temples of the Most High if we are in Him.

So the raging waters become an instrument in the hand of God. Now do you see why verses 2-3 speaks of not being afraid because of verse 1, where God actively seeks to be known by you?

And this is exactly why I believe we are not to waste our weaknesses

John Newton said “Everything is necessary that he sends. Nothing can be necessary that he withholds!” and I couldn’t have said it better. Yes it can be a difficult truth but it is a liberating one. All that is happening to you is to make you become more Christlike, if you would let God use it

We see a similar cry from Paul in 2 For 12:7-10

Let God leverage your weaknesses to make you into who he intends you to be.

Now, how might that happen?

Fortunately, there is no formula or x steps to take but a process, and a journey that takes place in the mundane routine acts of your life.

Here are some guidelines I am learning about on my journey with him:

1. Take time to reflect and contemplate the realities around you through the lens of God’s word and principles. To do this means you must have some margin and space in your life to be quiet

2. Hang on to the grace and truth of God. Arm yourself with truth from scriptures of his undying love for you.

3. Be objective about yourself. Be brutally honest with yourself. Apply truth rigorously to every area of your life. This you can do with God’s help

4. Know that it is a process, you will fall many times but his grace is abundant – Rom 5:17.

Trust me, you will need His grace.

You will come to see that you are more of a sinner than you ever understood (Jer 2:13, Jer 13:26, Jer 17:9, etc.) and you are more loved than you can begin to imagine (John 3:16, Isa 43:1-7, Isa 49, etc).

5. Keep moving on. God will never give up on you. I know this, for it is impossible for one who is love (not that he has love) to give up on his beloved.

Know that if there was an easier way for God to make you into who he intends you than the process you are in, he would rake that road. Why? Because he is love and love compels him to do so.

In the same breath, know that he is more than willing to take you through the wilderness (Hosea 2:14-15) if that is the way to make you into Christlikeness. Why? Because he is love and love compels him to do so.

Here is a great article that inspired this post: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/don-t-waste-your-weaknesses-in-2014

May you always be with God as he is with you

Do not waste your weaknesses