A very long hiatus has happened…I wish I could say it’s over…but at least I’m here today!
So I begin our time together using an interesting verse: Matthew 23:12
What a verse, right?
I use this verse, because, sadly, I have seen it lived out.
Friends, I do not consider myself a prideful person. If anything, I tend to downplay any ability I may have in certain areas. I don’t really like attention, and will do whatever is necessary to kind of fade into the background in most circumstances.
So when I have read over this verse in the past, I just thought about how sad it would be to find myself in such a position that the Lord of the earth would have to humble me.
I never thought it would actually happen.
But it did.
Enter teaching. I have fought the very fibers of my being for several years, telling myself that I did not belong in a classroom. Telling myself that the tug I felt toward school was just me missing friendships that I had there. Telling myself that I could find fulfillment in other arenas. Telling and telling and telling…
Until finally, on a hike high up in the Colorado mountains, I asked, “Should I go back to work full-time? Should I apply for this job that is open at my old school? Please Lord, I need Your guidance.” And this time, I truly heard what my heart had known all along. So I applied, got hired, and started the year in my normal fashion.
Coming into a new grade level has its own unique set of challenges. Add to that being absent from full-time teaching and all the full-time responsibilities, and you can imagine that those first few weeks were crazy.
Thankfully, God blessed me with two incredible teammates who kept this struggling chick afloat, answering questions and providing suggestions to make that time easier. And it was easier…in some ways.
You see, I wasn’t going about this working thing the way I should. I approached it from the “me” perspective–I can handle this, I can do whatever is necessary, I’m a veteran teacher–how hard can this be? I was all about what I could do, how I could do. Me, me, me…
Until…one day I was sitting at home thinking about all the millions of things I still had to do at work. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get a handle on how to make things happen efficiently. I felt like I was falling further and further behind despite my best efforts. Frustration, sadness, feelings of failure, second-guessing my decision to go back to work, doubt of my ability…it was then that I heard my God. In the sweetest yet firmest of voices, He spoke to the depths of my soul–“That’s the problem…you’re relying on yourself.”
Of course I’m relying on myself. I have been given the gift of teaching, that I have been told by numerous people on numerous occasions. I’m working within my gifting, I’m doing what I’m supposed to, I’m in the job because You arranged it… Yep, I am relying on myself (I sarcastically thought).
My friend, I will always remember what happened next as one of my defining moments. Again, in the voice my soul recognizes, my Savior spoke: You cannot do it without Me.
It was as if my eyes had been opened for the first time. The realization that came with that simple yet sooooo profound sentence nearly took my breath away. I had been doing all of it within my own strength; never looking to my Provider, never seeking my Defender, never turning to my Creator. Nope, I had it all under control. No need to bother God–so I thought.
All the confidence I had in my ability had taken my eyes off of the One Who gave me the ability in the first place. I was so sure that I could do whatever was needed…and because of that, I made my life difficult. My stress, my doubt, my insecurity…all because of myself…
When I finally let the full weight of my personal inability fall on me… when I finally heard what my Lord had been trying to tell me… when I finally not only recognized but also acknowledged my need for Him… the weight of my current situation fell inexplicably and completely off my shoulders. I felt free…I truly can’t explain it… totally free. Unencumbered, relaxed, and…humbled.
I had allowed my pride to block my view of God. I had put all my faith in me. I had a serious dose of pride–thinking I was all that, and not needing any help from my Savior. No wonder I felt like I was being crushed. Pride had weaved its nasty vine in my life–without me knowing it. Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story.
I emerged on the other side of this life-defining moment a new woman: I had come face-to-face with my pride, and had experienced the disgrace of having to admit my sin and shortcomings to my Lord. But I also experienced the grace and forgiveness of an ever-present God Who only wants me to draw closer to Him. Through it all, I gained a wisdom and a sense of purpose that I would never have known had I not walked this path. Proverbs 11:2 said it best: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” I am also a living testimony of this verse–my God didn’t leave me as the person described in Matthew 23:12–He moved me to a whole new level in our relationship.
From that moment on, I have prayed each day, “God, this day is a gift. I thank You for it, but I’m turning it around and giving it right back to You. I know, without any reservations, that I cannot do this day without You. I truly can do nothing alone. I cannot teach these children, love these children, lead these children without You. Take this day and use me to do what You need.”
Humbled, yes. But so much more than that. Free, relaxed, appreciative, dependent–no longer do I do my day on my own. My humbled spirit bows to the Creator of me, trusting in His plan for me. God made me a teacher; and I can only be how and who He created me to be when I lay each day, and myself, at His feet.
I choose every day to live humbled….wiser… and victoriously!
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