Death to self, my prayer has been.
Lord, teach me what it means to pick up my cross and follow you.
Father, help me to die to my wants, my desires, my self-centered universe my sin has placed me in.
Rid me of myself.
Father God, I long to get to the end of myself where I no longer matter…and, all that matters is Your glory of which you are infinitely worthy. For in living for Your glory, I will find true satisfaction and joy.
Teach me to die.
Be careful what you pray for.
I had a difficult week last week. It would be much easier and less embarrassing for me to shorten the story and wrap it up nicely with a pretty big bow at the end…but, it didn’t much involve a pretty side of me. But, praise be to God that there is grace for the ugly, in which I possess an overabundance.
It’s a long one, but, hang in there if you so please.
I adjusted my ever shifting out of place dupatta as I sat down eagerly behind a desk with a group of national believers. Three men, three women, and one precious little boy stared wide-eyed at me. I smiled, and they smiled back, saying various things I couldn’t understand. I stood and introduced myself in their language, muttering off random facts about myself, attempting accurate pronunciation and accent. They laugh, of course, impressed if any American says one word in their language. One man stood and thanked us for learning their language.
Music. Songwriting. Beautiful loving people. A sure recipe for an amazing week.
Well, there were other plans in store for me.
There were so many moments of pure joy and excellence. Various times I was emotionally moved to tears. There was laughter. The time was saturated in prayer. Though the language barrier, there was such unity. The Church.
But, the days were long and exhausting. I was amazed at how fast I deteriorated from the long hours. I had caught a bug the week prior and was still very much feeling the effects of it. Feverish and, at times, coughing uncontrollably, my energy was low.
Lack of sleep and exhaustion often have the terribly negative effect on me of what I call, “going inward”. I was very much aware of this, and fought it hard, but, felt I was losing the battle.
I began hearing lies…and believing them. I felt attacked. All of a sudden, I felt like the exception to every promise of God. Surely, they were, of course, for others, but, not for me. God wasn’t even listening to my prayers. He answers others’, but, not mine.
So selfish am I.
Let’s backtrack. Over the course of the past year, the Lord pretty much flipped my world upside down. Everything I thought I wanted, all of a sudden, I didn’t want anymore. The future I had mapped out was obliterated. He pointed to the Nations, said “Go”, and I went.
I knew without a doubt that that’s where He wanted me to be… But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there weren’t thoughts of the future floating around in my head. You see, last year I lost my “heartbeat”. I always knew what I was going to do…then it was gone. I used to look into the future and see something, now I look and see absolutely nothing at all. Although far from the reason of my being here, I know that somewhere in the back of my mind, I hoped to possibly regain my lost heart beat while over here. In my mind, I had two “technical” jobs this semester…perhaps one would spark something inside of me and revive my flat lined heart.
Well, as I sat in my seat for hours on end doing virtually nothing…I felt useless. I wanted to feel needed, necessary, useful…but, I felt the exact opposite of those things. There was little I could do to help during the process, and as I sat there, the selfish thoughts began to brew inside of my head. I grew annoyed, and at times, angry. Mostly, I was frustrated. I was frustrated that I wasn’t needed. And I was frustrated I didn’t “love” it. The Lord blessed the group incredibly, and it was amazing to watch it happen…but, I wasn’t crazy about “ethnomusicology”. Yeah, it was cool, but, I didn’t love it…and that disappointed me.
My journal entries throughout the week discuss the confusion and frustration and “funk” I was in, all along tinted with repetitive entries of “John 3:30” scribbled in ink on various pages.
Father, help. I’m afraid I’ll never find my heartbeat. I’m lost. Incline your ear to me. Help me to be selfless. August 24th.
I have my wants and my desires—many of which I am probably unaware—but, Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Whatever the case may be…Be it exhausting and trying, or lovely and easy, Thy will be done. August 25th.
Pursue love. Die daily. Be with God. John 3:30. August 25th.
I am selfish. August 26th.
The Lord graciously had been revealing to me my selfishness, yesterday, and this morning, really showed me the depths. August 27th.
I wanted something tangible I could see and talk about—to measure my usefulness and my success in this job. I wanted to be praised in some way for helping these people—but, I wasn’t “doing” anything, so, I wasn’t going to be able to. I was upset because I felt like I wasn’t needed.
My battle with the idol of self crept in viciously.
The Lord shook me a bit today. After I led a short devotion on 1 Corinthians 12, thus concluding our week, various members from the group stood up and lavished their love and gratitude on us. I felt overwhelmed and shocked. After all, I had done absolutely nothing worth being thanked for. With tears in one man’s eyes, he expressed his gratitude towards us and called my partner and I his sisters.
The Lord uses us in various ways. Sometimes, it’s by simply sitting in a chair for hours on end, reading a book, tapping a foot in time to the music, swaying my head, smiling, clapping, leading two small devotions, –just being. That was all.
All I did was sit there, but God was working and moving. My Father asked me to sit. That was all. He wanted me to sit in order for six of His beloved children to be encouraged in their work. Sit. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I, probably selfishly, want to do huge things for God. I desire them all to be for His glory, but, know I struggle with wanting some of my own to go along with it. But, in one of the blessed moments of Him destroying my love of self, He asked me to just…sit. I wasn’t going to get any glory. I wasn’t going to have a cool story to tell about what and all that I did. But, His Kingdom was furthered.
It’s not about me at all. I know that, and learn it so often…yet live it out miserably.
The day before I left, I met with a pastor at my church. He asked me if there was anything I was afraid of. I told him that I was afraid I would get home and realize that it had all been about me…and, I didn’t want that.
Through tears, I told my mentor here all of the above. She said she once heard a speaker ask the group if they would still be willing to [go] if they knew no book would ever be written about them, no newsletter or article, they would be long forgotten, nothing would come of their work in their lifetime, no one would know their name…no one would even care…
That is my ideal…but, I can’t honestly say I’m there yet. But, I long to be. Oh, to be at the end of self.
A friend, unknowingly, sent me Hebrews 11:13 that week. The sermon at HC expressed “getting over our painful selves”, and asking “If it wasn’t until you left your work and ministry that incredible things took place…would you be okay with that?”
I couldn’t help but wonder if throughout the entirety of my time here…I will do…nothing—if others will prosper, and nothing will come of what I do. If others will share Truth and the dead come to life…but, the same will not happen for me.
Would I be okay with coming to the end and not having a bag full of stories that would impress the grandest of them all? Stories of others, but, not of myself?
What if my entire life was like that? Would I rejoice in that?
Father, it’s no fun, but please continue to help me die to myself. Help me to gladly be the one who is simply sitting, and not necessarily the one doing and doing and receiving the praise. If nothing I do or nothing happens to me the entire time I’m here that would point to any success or greatness on my part—may I rejoice in that. May I be honored and humbled that my King counted me worthy enough to simply…sit.
Teach us, O God, that nothing is necessary to Thee. Were anything necessary to Thee that thing would be the measure of Thine imperfection: and how could we worship one who is imperfect? If nothing is necessary to Thee, then no one is necessary, and if no one, then not we. Thou dost seek us though Thou does not need us. We seek Thee because we need Thee, for in Thee we live and move and have our being. Amen.