Thursday, July 07, 2005

Spiritual Discernment or Just Pride?

"Your pride... Give it up to me." I pondered the words as I lay in bed. "Pride? What pride?" It sure felt like the Holy Spirit was the One talking, but I couldn't think of what He might be referring to. It's not that I think I'm without pride... far from it. But God had already dealt with me on my sense of deserving (e.g. in the job search) weeks before. No, this was about something else... but what? I asked the Lord to show me what He meant.

A couple days later I was reading David's words in Psalm 131,
O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.

Ugh! There it was! I've been diligently working to "discern" how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together at this point in Aleta's and my life - and feeling very spiritual about it until the Holy Spirit peeled back the mask from the impulse driving me to "know the plan." Behind it, I looked straight into the grotesque, bloodshot, poisonous eyes of pride... my pride. I had spiritualized it with the rhetoric of "discernment" so much that I didn't even recognize it.

My pride stood in stark contrast to David's Psalm 131... a psalm about dependence and simple faith - that of a little child that's incapable of knowing the full plan, but contented, nonetheless, to simply be resting in the loving arms of his or her mother. My need to know the plan was synonymous with the desire to sit in the seat of control; but control and faith don't hang out in the same neighborhood. What seemed like mature and insightful thinking was actually little more than a childish tantrum - in which I incessantly prayed, "Show me the plan, Lord! Show me the plan!" instead of simply following the Father in faith.

If we really do "walk by faith and not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7) then doesn't it seem odd that we still pray so frequently to see? Elisha's famous prayer for his companions' eyes to see the angelic hosts protecting them (2 Kgs 6:17) stands as a memorial to their lack of faith. It is the same with Jesus' concession to Thomas to show him the crucifixion wounds on His resurrected body (Jn 20:24-29). After showing him, Jesus says, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." The wise prayer, the dependent prayer, yes... even the contented prayer simply says, "Show me the next step, Lord, and give me whatever wisdom You want me to have. I don't need to know the whole plan right now; I trust You and that's good enough."

Psalm 139:1-6 puts it perfectly,
O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.

"Sorry for sitting on Your throne, Father. You can have it back now."
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1 comment:

Al said...

Yes, Lord. Please give us enough light simply to see the next step in front of us. Diminish our desire to see the whole map so that we may be more dependent on you!