Falling On My Face

Over the past couple of years, I found myself praying for humility. It feels more dangerous than praying for patience. My fear and expectation is that God will use personal humiliation to teach me that I am not the little goddess my human nature thinks I am. I had a co-worker who would get after me for telling myself that I’m stupid, something I tend to do out loud when I make a mistake. He said I shouldn’t tell myself that, or I would start to believe it. I explained to him that he shouldn’t be concerned, as I have way too high an opinion of myself, to begin with. Most of us humans do. Calling myself out for my errors is hardly going to dent in my ego. I have a job that I love, am good at, and which is well suited to my strengths. This makes ego a particular danger, which is one reason I pray for God to humble me.

I have an expectation that God will answer this prayer in a painful way, which makes me eager to acknowledge my mistakes and failures. But then, this week, God brought me to my knees in an entirely different way. He has blessed me, and I have never felt so undeserving. It appears that God is working out a new living situation which exceeds all my expectations. My heart is brought low because it is so clearly God’s work. I understand that, if for some reason the potential new home doesn’t work out, I will need to submit to His will and find joy in other possibilities. Still, I don’t know where to start in thanking Him and praising Him because, even in this little apartment with crazy neighbors and nowhere to park, I am still blessed beyond anything I deserve. I realize that my hourly wage from a middle-class American job has me in the top 1% of the world for wealth. I live in an expensive area, but God has always provided. And once again, He sees fit to exceed my expectations.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

James 1:9-11

As I’ve prepared to move and pay more for rent, I have been working to pay off my car more quickly. I told myself that when the loan was paid off, I would sponsor a second child through Compassion International, as being a sponsor is a great joy to me. But last month, my sister was on their website and saw a girl who touched her heart in a special way. My sister already sponsors two children, and with the move coming up, wasn’t sure she should commit to a third. But she was anxious to see this child get sponsored. Knowing that God must be involved in the situation, I decided to sponsor the girl. It was a few months earlier than I had planned, but I went into my budget spreadsheet and added in the additional cost. It is miraculous how I thought my budget was tightened down as far as it would go, yet the money for the sponsorship was there. It’s as though God had it set aside the whole time.

Friday night, after an exciting and tiring week, I had an email from Compassion International to inform me that I had received a letter from my original sponsor child. I eagerly linked to it and read it. Just when I thought I had been humbled, God brought me down another notch. There is a nine-year-old girl in Haiti that is praying for me and my family. It makes complete sense that I pray for her and her family, but she is praying for me. She ended her letter by saying, “I will always pray for you and your family so God can bless you, have his own way with you and give you very strong health.” I can’t read her letter without tears because the joy is mine to give to her, to bless her, and to pray for her and her family. And yet, as God does bless me, I wonder about the prayers He hears from this young girl. She lives in extreme poverty and has a hard life, but she is calling to God on my behalf. I can only think that when I write her, I need to tell her that God is answering her prayers, and that I am blessed beyond anything I deserve. She knows that I am rich, and I don’t want to make a show of it in my letters. But I do want to encourage her faith and ensure she knows that God hears her and is faithful.

I am not sure exactly how this lesson of blessing and humility works. I have never had a season of life where I have felt God’s blessing so strongly. I am not just referring to material blessings, but also the blessings of strength, endurance, and peace of mind. He is stretching me as I take on multiple challenges at once. Yet rather than feeling discomfort, I am happy because He is working in my life. Isn’t that fact alone a great condescension on His part? The only place for me is bowed down, on my face in worship.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

Psalms 8:3-5

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