Friday, October 17, 2008


I went shopping Wendesday night for the church hayrack ride and bonfire. As I tootled through various stores collecting supplies, I took joy in purchasing items and in the thought of others enjoying the hot dogs and s’mores, an open fire and a wagon ride through the fields. There was a sense of satisfaction in providing for the pleasure of others. In some respects it was a secret mission as I was alone, with my own thoughts. There was no conflict. The attitude of my heart was open, free, unhindered. Content with the booty that filled the trunk of our car, I returned to pick up our children from their evening activity at church.
Then, as the sanctuary was nearly empty, an unfamiliar young lady began playing the piano. Large, loud chords filled the room followed by flowing arpeggios that rang from one end of the piano to the other. The contrasts of dynamics, melody, and harmony were no less than heaven sent. On and on she played. Close on the heels of amazement, however, was jealousy; that which listened for a mistake, for a slip, for some kind of error; the ooze of green steam which escapes the human heart and rises upward to cloud our thinking. As her playing came to a close, I found myself drawn to the piano and others who were with the young player.
Struggling to put self aside and find air through the green haze, I asked her name, her plans, sought to extend grace and appreciation. It was a gift, her playing, and it brought great blessing to the spirit even while the heart waged war.
Then—betrayal—I began to delve into my self. Not God’s name, not God’s ministry, not God’s provision, but my own. Oh, the shame. The loss of reward. The vanity which strips away joy, generosity, and peace. The shackles that come with attaching my efforts to a work of God, when I could choose the freedom of honoring and glorifying Him with my words rather than directing others’ thoughts toward myself.
This morning I am reminded that in "exercising godliness," failure is inherent. To exercise it to exert effort. To fail. To try again. And, little by little, to move closer to the goal. In service to our God and King, the goal is to honor and glorify Him. When my heart and words are self-focused, I have betrayed the One I serve. A heart of service is a humble heart. And humility is a part of being, not doing. It is a decision of the will forcing the heart to submission despite its ungainly emotions. It is a response of gratitude and service, not self-accolade. It is quiet and accepting. Humility is service that glorifies our God the King.

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