Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Friday, March 31, 2017

What Motherhood Has Taught Me: Hunched Over Dirt

I spot tulips poking through the ground the afternoon seven children are whooping and hollering in the fresh spring air. Those tender little shoots make me want to whoop and holler just like the children.

In my excitement I call the children to come look at the new shoots. Most of them glance carelessly as they dart past. The four year old pauses, bends down and true to his age and character, asks ‘why?’ and bolts off to catch up with his big cousin before I can even attempt to give him an answer.

I linger for another moment in the garden, hunched over dirt and marveling at new life as the sunlight slips into the western sky.

The yard is full of promise and life and laughter is falling from high in the tree and delighted squeals ring out by the bunny hutch and beauty is breaking through the humus in the garden.

The next morning we wake up to freezing rain and fraying tempers. Words whip around like the howling wind and sting like sleet across the face. I ask “why?” and run along to catch up with pressing obligations and ordinary tasks.

My son comes to me to recite his memory work, the little one dances to the hoedown that my oldest pounds on the piano and all day the house is filled with active learning, boisterous living, and dissonant sounds ringing loud while I listen to the bird song floating in from the treetops. Some days I wonder how on earth I got to the long end of it.

Motherhood has taught me many things about life.

I could write memos in the layer of dust across the top of the piano, dressers and bookshelves reminding myself to walk in humility.

The English word ‘humble’ is derived from the Latin word ‘humus’ meaning earth.

Humility always brings us down closer to the dirt and substance of life. Right down to where it all really matters.

This is what God requires of us: to walk humbly with God.

Because, really? Could we walk with God without humility? Without going lower and seeing who we really are? Without seeing ourselves as nothing but dust and dirt raised to new life by the sheer astonishing grace of God?

Walking in humility is not comfortable. In a world where everyone is clamouring to be seen, humility means stooping to go low.

Never has it been so easy to be seen or heard or give your opinion or fight for your perceived right or slam someone you don’t like.

We are hurt and we lash with words full of spite that pierce deep like the sharp scalpel that cut right down into my heart. We are wounded and we nurse our annoyance. We are judged and we respond with cruel, cunning revenge.

We rip others apart because of the pride that misplaces our sense of worth.

Pride keeps us caged up, rattling the bars and baring our teeth, determined to bite and devour one another, but in the end it destroys the soul that is imprisoned by its own raging self-preservation.

It’s as old as dirt. Well, almost.

God took dirt and formed the man, Adam and then took one of Adam’s ribs and fashioned woman out of man.

The Almighty Creator molded his body like a potter shaping a lump of clay into whatever he pleases, and He breathed life into his nostrils making a formed man into a living soul.

Man came from the dust of the earth and to dust we all return. We are all going the same way. Back down to dust.

We are all human, bearing the same image of God.

God made man to be fully satisfied in Him. But man has turned from God and tried to satisfy his soul with everything but God. Man is always trying to make a name for himself and always falling short of the glory of God.

The Son of God stooped down to walk on the very earth he created, and took on the likeness of mankind he had formed to bring us back to God.

He stooped to the lowest of low and died the most shameful and humiliating death.

How should we not walk in humility?

What is it that keeps us from bearing with one? What is it that prefers to protect our hearts instead of being tenderhearted towards one another? What is it that prevents us from getting our hands dirty from laying ourselves down low?

Going low hurts our self, but it's good for our souls.

Jesus laid it out clearly this way:
“‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?’” (Mark 8:34-37)
Following Jesus means to stoop down and carry our cross even when it is going to kill us. Because in dying to ourselves we are raised to new life in Jesus Christ.

A life to love and serve and bear with one another, to be kind to one another and compassionately tender-hearted to those who are hurting and forgiving to those who hurt us.

We convince ourselves to step away from stooping low. We pamper the desire to exalt self and satisfy the lust of our souls with the idols of our hearts. We whoop and holler in childish ways keen to make our selves look superior. We trust in our righteousness and look down on and treat everyone else with contempt.

But this is not the way of humility. This is the way that forfeits a soul.

We are called to walk in humility with the same attitude as Jesus Christ. We are to consider others above ourselves. We are to only let words flow from our lips that are good for building up so that what comes out may give grace to those who hear.

In humility, we will put a guard over our mouth -- or refrain from typing -- and speak – or type -- words that are kind and true, that strengthen and bring forth life, and are full of grace.

If you say you are a Christian, then you will walk in humility and follow after the One who gives grace to the humble.

And right now as spring flowers break through the earth, linger a little longer and give thanks for the astonishing grace of God in your life.

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