Tag Archives: humility

To Not be Remembered

It was about halfway through the promotional video that I realized they were using my words on the voiceover. Every subsequent word confirmed it. Excitement rose up in my bones: they were using my letter! I would be named at the end of the video! I was surprised that no one had asked permission, but I shrugged if off. After all, it was a public letter, written as a part of Wheaton College’s Tuition freedom day. That year, I’d received a particularly generous scholarship and wanted to communicate my gratitude. Stories of the Lord’s provision and faithfulness. And now, in the official college video, they were using my letter.

I’ll never forget the sinking feeling when I got to the end of the 1:34 video and all I saw was the school logo. Where was my name? My picture? Even the handwriting of my letter? I dug through my recall – had I put my name on the letter? Why wasn’t it included? Why had no one tried to track me down? Here was this beautiful, professional video with my words eloquently weaving the piece together. It was my gratitude, my story of God’s provision. And yet, my name was nowhere to be found.

The video would come and go and I would never be associated with it. No one would ever praise me for it. I wouldn’t be getting the glory for thanking the donors that year or for being obedient to the Lord in steps of faith that don’t always make sense.

Then again, the donors aren’t being praised for their faithfulness either. Most of them don’t have their names all over campus. It’s a quiet, nameless sort of obedience to be the “vessels that God is using to provide for my education.”

I remember later that semester of my sophomore year, one of my professors posed a question:

Are you willing to serve, do all that is is worthy and beautiful, to give you life away, and not be remembered for any of it?

Clearly, I wasn’t.

But it wasn’t entirely my fault. Because, for as much as I had learned and actively pushed myself (or had the Lord push me) towards humility up to that point, there was still more. The process of being made nothing and Jesus getting all the glory is uncomfortable and painful. And there always seems to be more. It is the actions of anonymity, the hours of intercession in solitude, the offering in secret, the handing over the microphone, or letting your name fall from the record.

We say things all the time that make sense in our head: Jesus gets the glory, it’s His story, not ours, we’re only living for an audience of one, and we will become nothing so that He can be magnified. But when we fade deep into the shadows and the things that make us feel worthy are no longer seen, the reality is something different. We don’t mind it being Jesus’ story if we’re the one who gets to be seen and praised for telling it. We want the life worthy of the biography, but the kind that gets written because you live with such humility that you’d never dream of writing it yourself (ironic, right). We see the people in Scripture who seem insignificant compared to Abraham, King David, and Paul, but they still get a minute in the spotlight. People like Rahab, Boaz, Abigail, or Joseph of Arimathea. I tell myself that I’m okay with humility if it means being one of them. I don’t need to be as beloved or well-known as John, as long as I get to be remembered for my faithfulness like Anna or Lydia.

But what if loving Jesus means that I don’t get to be remembered at all?

What if I lived like it really isn’t about me?

What if I really did decrease, so that He really increased?

What if obedience and faithfulness looks more like the story of the man in Ecclesiastes 9, a story that is only two verses long –

“There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siege works against it. But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.” Ecclesiastes 9:14-16

The man was clearly operating in some personal and probably spiritual gifts, including a bent towards leadership, if he had wisdom enough to deliver the city from the siege of a great king. Yet, Scripture is clear about both his poverty and his lack of recognition. Yet no one remembered that poor man. God gets the glory in the city and he fades into the shadows. Poor, unremembered, and deeply known by the King of Kings.

Stewardship and humility are not mutually exclusive. We are called to die and that means dying to our desire to be remembered. If we’re fighting for the accolades, the book deal, the speaking engagement, the twitter hashtag, or the biography-worthy life, are we fighting for our glory or Christ’s? None of it is about us. We must decrease.

The reality about being remembered is that the closer I get to Jesus, the less it seems to matter. When I hear Him tell me just how deeply He delights in me, how permeating His hesed love is, how His covenant with me is irrespective of my worthiness, the easier it is to spend my life being forgotten. I can say that “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), knowing that it’ll mean spending all my energy, my body, my resources, my time in a love for Jesus that may not be remembered. The more that I feel and know that I am as beloved as John, the less I feel the need to be remembered for that.

The more that I’m fighting for Jesus to be illuminated, the more I’m okay I am with living in the shadows. The more that I’m okay not being remembered if it means that Jesus is.

Things I’ve Learned From Refugees

“I think about the trees, the flowers, the brown grass in the fields.

They can all be patient, Certain that spring will return.

They don’t have to hope, They can be sure.

Hope is a thing made only for people,

A scrap to hold into

In darkness and in light” Home of the Brave, 246

I'm standing in "the cage," which is where we put together Good Neighbor Kits for newly arriving refugee family. I'm holding a welcome card made by a little girl.
Here, I’m standing in what we call “the cage,” which is where World Relief puts together Good Neighbor Kits for newly arriving refugee families. I’m holding a welcome card made by a little girl; welcome cards are included in every GNK that we leave in their apartments.

The other day, I wrote about things I’ve learned about refugees from my work at World Relief. There’s been a lot of new information circling regarding resettlement, refugees, and statistics regarding the growing displacement crisis. While facts are important, especially true ones and ones written from a personal connection, ultimately I wrote down things that you could find elsewhere on the internet.

At the end of the day, they’re still just the facts.

And these people are so much more than facts.

Interacting with people who have literally been forced to leave everything they know and arrive in a foreign land, often alone and not speaking the language, has done more than just teach me a few important tidbits about the refugee crisis. They have taught me about bravery, resilience, humility, hope, and hospitality. The people, not the facts, have chipped away at hardened pieces of my soul and shown me more of the grace and love of Christ.

They aren’t just numbers, pieces of the resettlement system, or the faces supporting the new refugee olympic team. They are some of the strongest, most courageous, most genuine people I’ve ever met. And here’s just a brief glimpse of some of the things they taught me this summer:

 

• Our presence is always communicating something – through our smile, our eyes, our body language, and the emotional state of our hearts. 

I couldn’t speak to most of the people I’ve picked up from the airport. I couldn’t tell them how to buckle their child in the carseat or that it’ll probably take an hour until we get to their new apartment. The point of translators is to help fill in those gaps and make the experience, at least on some level, a little less overwhelming. While it can be frustrating to have so much you want to say and find yourself unable to, especially as someone who likes using words to communicate, it has given me a new and profound appreciation for the presence we carry simply in our being.

Eye contact. Smiling. Nodding. Whether we like it or not, how we carry ourselves genuinely reflects our emotions. And when our emotions are overwhelming love and care for these people we’ve just met, it makes it easier to submit each encounter to the Lord and trust that His Spirit is saying more than you ever could. However, when emotions harbor a little more frustration, distraction, or selfishness, then spending ten minutes with the Lord before you step out of the car to greet a U.S. tie can be the most worthwhile thing you do all day. Because, like it or not, our very presence carries something with it – safety, welcome, warmth, compassion, annoyance, apathy. The question is, do we emanate the love of Christ, or something else? Because we’re always communicating something.

• There’s a resilience, bravery, and courage that we bear in our human spirit; it’s our choice to embrace it or not.

As part of my internship, I wrote weekly reflection papers. Week 4, I picked up two large families from the airport, accompanied only by a U.S. Tie. It was my first solo airport pick-up and the size alone was a little daunting. I agreed, but my mind was not without hesitation. Are we sure I was capable of getting these families to their new homes and making sure they would be safe for the night? What if something went wrong? Despite preemptive fears, the pick-up was incredible. After I got home, I wrote the following:

“Not only did I navigate the whole evening successfully and alone – getting everyone safety to their respective locations, including their luggage and food – but I had the humbling privilege of hearing pieces of their story through the U.S. Tie. Knowing that his wife came to the US alone, as a refugee, empowered me in some small way. Watching the older couple try to figure out seatbelts, knowing they couldn’t understand anything I was saying, as I helped pull the band across their bodies, I saw a bravery and resilience in their eyes. Everyone that World Relief resettles knows they are coming into a place that is literally worlds different than what they’ve known. Yet, they chose to do it  – for safety, for a better life, for a future, for protection, for hope. If my motivation is the love of Christ, literally the Hope of the world, what fear could hold me back from choosing all the plans He has for me, no matter how different, distant, or daunting?”

Because of the a lot of the built-in comforts of our American life, and our innate desire to run from situations that are uncomfortable or uproot deep seated fears of loss, loneliness, or failure, it’s easy to forget that there is strength available to us. Comfort doesn’t breed growth; challenge does. The thing about challenge is that while it may feel like it’s killing us, most of the time, it’s not. We have strength in who we are as human beings – we were created to be resilient, for bravery and the ability to grow. As Christians, we also have a strength that is inbred into our relationship with the King of Kings. It’s no wonder He continually reminds: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Do we tap into that power and resilience on a daily basis?

• Don’t underestimate the small things and the need for flexibility when it comes to hospitality.

The more I think about it, the more I think that hospitality isn’t the kind of thing that makes up best-selling biographies. No one really wants to read about people washing dishes, sending emails, or spending extra time to pick out matching blankets for a family. Acts of hospitality typically aren’t the documentary-worthy moments of serving others. Hospitality often looks more like Jesus washing feet or the woman on the side of the road wiping Christ’s brow. It’s small, insignificant, things that put you in a place of submission and humility as you choose others over yourself. The moments that don’t gain accolades, or may not even be noticed or remembered, but plant the seeds of love and care upon every place you tread.

Because, at the end of the day, people may not remember you and they may not remember the little things you did for them, but they’ll remember the feeling of being loved, served, and cared for. Isn’t that ultimately what Jesus did. To serve with humility; to love without pretense?

Things like welcome cards made by elementary school classes, picking out matching blankets for a family, or being willing to cut your lunch break short to drop a DVD player off for a family, so they can watch ESL videos with a volunteer. These are the things of hospitality. These are the things that make life a little more beautiful for someone else and when done with a heart of humility and love, ultimately please the Father’s heart.

Five Non-Cliche Truths You Need To Hear Today

One thing that I’ve learned in my mere twenty years on this earth is that if I’m not preaching to myself and letting Jesus speak His truth over me, then something else is going to. It’s like my heart wakes up every morning searching for something to cling onto. And to be totally transparent, the first thing it grabs is not always the truth of Scripture and who I am in Christ (even though I have it taped under my bunk bed, so in theory it should be). Sometimes I see a text from a friend and I let that dictate my value for the day – if it’s good and encouraging, then I’m at best riding a blessing-wave of temporary happiness and at worst letting my pride fuel my self worth. If it’s bad, I’m probably going to be in a less than ideal mood and looking to being defined by the world. Sometimes I let my mirror speak into my life. Sometimes I let a grade or a job or my perception of a situation define my reality.

I have to sing truth over my heart. Sometimes every minute of every day, because that’s how quickly I forget. But maybe that’s just me needing more grace.

I also need people speaking truth to me and over me. I need to hear the Holy Spirit in others proclaiming truth because most of the time its stronger than the things I see dimly with my own heart. This also means I need to be speaking them and praying them for others.

And just to clarify, when I say these are non-cliche, I don’t mean that you haven’t heard them before. I don’t mean that you may not even read all of them because you think you can be sick of hearing them. You may think they’ve lost meaning for you. I happen think it’s incredibly dangerous when we let the very truth of who we are and who Jesus is become cliche, meaningless, and rote. Yet, how quickly I also forget the reality of how powerful this truth is.

When I say these aren’t cliche, I say that because the truths of Scripture are the deepest and MOST TRUE things the reverberate in our world and in our lives. This is who you are. This is who Jesus is. These promises are everything because they are spoken to us by our God and Savior.

This ins’t taking “feel good” Scriptures out of context. This isn’t about proof-texting to boost our egos and give each other “holy” compliments. This is commanding our souls to dwell on truth. The truth that permeates every page of the love letter we call Scripture. The truth that is in every chirp of a bird, twinkle of a star, or the smile of a dear friend, through what theology would call general revelation. These aren’t some exclusive five magic points for a feel-good life. These are life changing, lead-you-to-uncomfortable-places-because-of-what-they’ll-call-you-to-do truths. Because when your heart realizes the depth of these truths, you can’t not respond to the Divine Pursuer with radical and wholehearted obedience.

So, let these wash over you with a fresh grace today. Or in this moment. And maybe the next. . .and the next. . .

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1. ) You are incomprehensibly loved by God. You’ll never understand just how much He delights in you and those around you.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

2.) The fact that Jesus loves you means that no one else’s perception should define who you are. Walk in a grace-filled confidence of how deeply He cares for you.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

3.) It’s not up to you and you aren’t qualified in and of yourself. It’s all about Jesus. So continue to embrace humility and let His Spirit work through you.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

4.) The Lord’s ways our higher than ours, so we won’t always understand His plans for our lives or the world. We can, however, always rest in the fact that He is faithful and trustworthy

. . .but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. . . Deuteronomy 7:8-9

5.) What we think is crazy or confusing or broken doesn’t surprise God; He gets us. He wants us to ask, seek, and knock, approaching Him with prayers, questions, gratitude, emotions, and burdens. 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-15

Any truths that your heart has been clinging to lately?

Happy Monday, friends.

We Weren’t Meant to Do This Alone

And yet, so often I try.

I rely on Jesus, sure, but I don’t want to bother other people.

I think I wrote a post back before the blog crash of 2013 about why it’s ok to have needs without being needy. I guess this is that same sort of theme.

This weekend, there was some crazy stuff going on. I am actually not even typing this from my room. The Lord is humbling me yet again to ask for help and prayers. And while I may (with Jesus, of course), be the only one standing in the middle of the situation, there are so many around me who want to help.

How much harder is running a race by yourself?

And yes, sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes Jesus asks us to do a couple miles with just Him for a season. But there is nothing better than rounding the bend and seeing a whole crowd cheering you on, praying for you, offering to serve and encourage you in any way they can.

I am so bad at asking for help. But then there is faithfulness and grace of the Lord.

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I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 3-4. The Lord calls Paul out of Thessalonica and he sends Timothy, “to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions. . .” (3:2-3, NASB). But even though Paul can’t be there, they pray night and day to see their faces and that the people may increase in faith.

“and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints” 3:12-13

And chapter 4 concludes with, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

I’ve been so grateful for the Scripture and comfort others have given me recently.

I’m never alone because of the nearness of Christ. Which is so glorious and beautiful and the state of my dependancy. But I’m also preceded by the saints whose legacies have paved the road on which I run. I’m underservingly joined by some amazing follow race-runners. Who send me letters and texts when they seem to know I need it. Who open their rooms and hearts for my life and the works of the Lord. Who are just there.

And when I think about the people behind me, those watching me on this race, I am scared to think that they would see someone who does not know how to lean on others. Someone who doesn’t walk in all that Jesus wants to do by keeping the burdens to herself.

This isn’t about my fear of looking needy. Or being the kind of person I write in my journal who requires “extra grace.”  This is about me living in the sufficiency of Christ and recognizing the people who are running next to me. This is about doing messy life together, with all it’s laughter, tears, and hope.

This is about my humility.

You would think I’ve learned my lesson by now. Having needs and sharing them with others does not make me needy. It makes me more like Christ and His apostles. It makes me like Paul and Timothy and the Thessalonians. It reminds me of the eternal communion I will have with Christ and all the saints in eternity.

But then again, this isn’t even about me at all.

It’s about the glory of Christ in all things.

I only know what Jesus is doing in me. What I’m believing for in others. I have no idea how He’s actually moving, in those directly and indirectly involved. I don’t know what He is ordaining for 10 years down the road. His glory is His prerogative. I’m just called to obedience, whether it makes sense or not. And whatever that obedience is just a drop in the ocean of His sovereignty and redeeming plans.

So, all of that to say, thank you to those who are running the race with me right now. You know who you are. From the sidelines or right along the road. I can’t even express my gratitude for how well you love me. Your prayers have been more impactful and mean more than you’ll know this side of Heaven. I am honored to do life with you. But really.

And when Jesus teaches you humility, don’t forget that He’s also doing a work in others. A very small part may be about you embracing the generosity and service of others, but there is so much more going on. . .in the hearts of others and in heavenly realms, that we’ll never know.

And that’s just the glorious, loving, sovereign, VICTORIOUS God we serve. To Him be all the praise forever.

Because, at the end of the day, when all my fellow race-runners have faded away, I will stand alone before my Bridegroom. To hear in humility, by His sustaining power and grace, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

Making Joyful Noises

Sacrificuim Deo spiritus contribulatus: cor contritum et humiliatum Deus, no despicies // The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken heart, O God, shalt Thou not despise. That Goodness, infinite and ineffable, Which is above, runs toward love, As light comes to polished bodies. Shosholoza You are moving fast on these mountains The… Read more. . .

Thoughts From the 48-Hour Mark

This pre-college journey has been crazy; it is so surreal to think that in a little more than 48-hours I will be boarding a plane to Chicago. Everyone keeps asking how I am and how I plan on staying in touch. People are making a concerted effort to let me know all that I mean… Read more. . .