Have you ever felt so small that your life seems like a particle of dust awaiting for the dust pan to stick you in the trash and never be a thought again?
That was me. It is me.
You would think that flying above the earth looking like a bird to behold from below would make one feel minuscule. Nope. How would you feel about standing in a conversation of educated people who you cannot comprehend because you are the foreigner? As an American, my privileged self still felt of some significance. Roaming among buildings, cathedrals and monuments build centuries ago took my breath away, but I still felt that I had a place.
My humbling experiences of past were put to shame the moment I stepped inside a 80 person church with chairs stacked, kids running in circles, laughter, and fellowship. The Lord’s Spirit radiated out in beams brighter than I have ever seen.
My coming to light moment was that speck of dust when I saw the fire burning inside the hearts of the missionaries gathered for worship.
Fire, passion, and drive blasted me in the face as people showed up to help, to move, and to create a place of gathering for the sheep. The flock came, although small, and they knew where their shepherd’s voice was and never stepped out of rhythm despite disappointment or setbacks.
If I had never been truly humbled before, my God brought me to the place of true humility and it has broken me like never before. There is no going back.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves
Right now I am going to sound conceited, but I do put people before me, almost always. I do complain a lot, and every once in a while I would like some recognition… I am a sinner after all. But truly, I want to serve and I want to give and I want to uplift. It’s hard in my introverted world, but I do want to be that girl scout and make the world a better place for the Lord.
Being brought down from my humble stance was what really needed to happen. I was being a martyr to humility. Now I am in a new and unfamiliar place of brokenness that I am just not processing.
The mission trip to Belgium that I recently went one was indeed hard work. Maybe when I explain to people that we had the tedious job of cleaning 3,000 tiles people don’t get it. Many hands make light work. It’s a good motto to live by, but it’s not the arduous work or the pain in the back that rode me for seven days that broke me down. It was the fire.
I was explaining to a bunch of five to eight year olds the other day that the people in the mission we served at were not just worshipping, but that they were on fire. I didn’t know any other words and I just left it there. Thank goodness that a leader rescued my words as I stood in reflection and told them that meant the people really loved Jesus.
I have heard over and over again from missionaries how the church in other countries, although small, is thriving. The local churches declare that their heart knowledge of the Lord carries them and creates a deep bond that is hard to put into words. They turn to the Americans and say that we are the ones with the head knowledge and it is so misused.
Witnessing this first hand, I understand. Where does one find the point where you have both that fire pouring out of you as well as Scripture hidden in your heart when you constantly bombarded with American mindsets of ease, leisure, the comparison game, and a rat race? How can we learn from these small churches and carry a new attitude of hope, joy, love, and true humility? I have only come across anger at my fellow Americans at wasting their passions on the wrong stuff.
This reflection, it is all about me, yes. It’s about my feelings, how I am trying to process, how to get past my anger and seek how to get back to the little church and feel the Lord moving. I believe that He has been stirring inside of me for some time now. He is opening my eyes with actual work and experience and not just with stories and pictures. What He has for me next will be something I probably cannot fathom at this moment.
Now that I think I hit the bottom, I pray to only move more for the Lord. I pray that this drives us to do more for Him, and be more for Him. He will carry me through and I pray that He uses these things inside of me for His glory and purpose. And when He calls me again, I will go.
For now, I turn to hope.
I will extend my story in this humility, try to understand what the Lord wants me to be doing, and encourage my brothers and sisters to also have hope.
Philippians 2: 12-18
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
I would like to share more with you about my missions trip with my daughters in the near future. In the meantime, if you have a heart for this part of the Christian faith walk and have doubts, please be encouraged. No work is too small or task too big to make an impact for the Lord’s kingdom.
15 thoughts on “The Measure of Humility”
Oh, Philippians! It nails me every time! Thanks for being so open and honest here!
This is strong. I love it because as a helper always, I battled the same thing, and as an introvert I say, “I am getting outside my comfort zone,” like it is some rare and uncalled for thing. Not that I mean for it to. I like what they said about the head knowledge. I agree, being one–but I have spent a lot of my life wanting to be elsewhere because I thought where I was was wrong, that God must have put me in the wrong country because I just wasn’t a good fit. But We stopped trying to be everywhere else and finally submitted to our little church where we are, and He is moving. I love that this walk of faith is so very personal. I can’t tell you enough how glad I am for this post. Keep writing. Keep sharing!
Thank you for your encouragement.
Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I also struggle with having an attitude of selflessness and humility. Sometimes I feel weary of doing the right thing, because people around me don’t care, but then I remember Galatians 6:9 about not being weary and I that we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up doing good for others.
MaryAnn, I had the same experience in Cuba in 1999.
It’s amazing how God works.
What tiles were you scrubbing? Were they in an old church?
Yes. I’m going to write a post about our actual work later this week. We were helping prepare an attic space for a new ministry at Operation Mobilization Belgium. The roofing tiles are hundreds of years old. There wasn’t any weather proofing in the space so we needed to fix that part and make room for windows.
This post is so good! Philippians 2:3 is one of my favorite verses. One of my goals is to consistently cultivate an attitude of humility. Thank you for sharing your story here about your quest for humility. It’s not always an easy path, but it is the one we are called to take.
It’s easy to fall prey to the ‘grass is greener’ mindset. Every person, congregation, and church has something they can teach us. And in turn, we have things we can teach them. I think the key is to enter in to situations with an opening and questioning mind. And then to pray fervently that God show us what he would have us learn, absorb, and change.
Thank you for your wonderful reminder of the need for that fire inside us.
I’m grateful for your vulnerability and the processing you are doing in front of us, Maryann. It’s good for you and good for us to consider these things as well. I do believe that American Christians are far too complacent and self-focused. It would probably do us all a world of good to visit a church like you ministered to and were inspired by. Thanks for challenging us all to get fired up about our faith, my friend!
Thank you for your encouragement.
I remember the year that I decided to pray often for humility and I definitely received. 😉 It’s quite painful. But I know it’s good for all of us. Pride is often one of our greatest sins, so humility is one of our greatest graces. I appreciate you sharing your story here of humility. It reminds me that I still need to pray for it. It’s the more honest way to live. Turn to hope—yes!