Skip to main content

the "H" word

So here's what happened. I got on the plane a week ago to come to this place where I am from, this small town rural community in Manitoba, and frankly, not my favourite vacation spot in the world. And as is often my practice when going somewhere, I asked God, "So, what about this trip? What are you doing?" The answer was swift: "You need to practice some humility."

Don't you hate it when God asks you to humble yourself? I have come far since I left my hometown: I have had strange and wonderful experiences which include supernatural and mystical phenomenon, I have drunk alcohol and realised it is not the end of my salvation, I have made friends from all over the world, I have learned another language, I have overcome a lot of fears and prejudices and lost reams of religious trappings, I have participated in planting several churches, I have spoken in public and taught and written articles to some public acclaim. So most times when we visit, I feel a certain smallness in the community here, like it does not look far outside itself or embrace change all that well. And I am all about change - learning, growing, stretching, and going beyond what I know.

So you see how easy it is to go from my trying to live in the largeness of this life God has blessed me with to looking down on those who will never travel far from where they were born and tell me they are afraid of the changes they see coming. I really don't understand that mindset, and I must admit, I have judged it. Oh heck, let me just get the ugly truth out there: I think I am beyond this place, better than this place, wiser than this place, cooler than this place, and more spiritual than this place. I am proud and arrogant and self-centred and stink with self-righteousness. Yes, I need to learn humility. I definitely need it.

And so I landed in Manitoba with a prayer: to see this small town where I am from the way Jesus sees it, to value it like he does, to hear and embrace and enjoy everything that God saw fit to plant into this community and not lace my observations with comparisons or criticisms. To listen more than I talk. To receive more than I offer (because I think I have oh so much to offer, you know). To empty myself of my self-importance for a few days and look and love and breathe and see the life here instead of the lack.
It is remarkable what a small dose of humility can do. I can honestly say that I am having fun here. I am enjoying my interactions with people and making it a point to seek out some folks that I normally would overlook. I stop and make time for those chats with the random, semi-forgotten acquaintances that one always encounters in a small town. I try to be pleasant and approachable and real and down to earth in every situation, whether it involves talkative children in the bathroom needing some help with the soap dispenser or a person I have not seen in years who asks awkward questions. These people are valuable. God loves these people. He hand-picked this part of the world as the best place for me to grow up, and I must believe that it was an extravagant act of love on his part.

If there are walls between myself and the people here, I have put them there. If there is disappointment in how things progress here, it is because I have not extended grace. If I am not willing to serve my family and friends in this place, I am a sorry excuse for a follower of Jesus.
This humility is more enjoyable than I could have imagined, and not all that hard. All you have to do is get down. And stay down. Much easier than trying to raise oneself up all the time.

This is a photo taken from the plane as we landed in Winnipeg.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I like reading what is going on inside as you land in that subculture. Thanks for letting the grace shine through, and not the self we think we are. Yreit

Popular posts from this blog

what does the cross mean?

Words which we use a lot can sometimes become divested of their depth of meaning. In the Christian tradition, we talk about the cross a lot. We see visual representations of the cross in prominent places in our gathering spaces, we wear crosses around our necks, some get crosses tattooed on their bodies. The cross is a ubiquitous symbol in Christianity, so lately I have been asking myself, what exactly does the cross mean? For the most part, the cross as portrayed in contemporary Christianity is a beautiful thing, festooned with flowers and sunsets and radiant beams of light (just google cross or cross coloring page). But in the first century, the cross was a symbol of disgrace. To the Roman empire, this ignoble instrument of death was for those who were traitors and enemies of the state. We are many centuries removed from this view of the cross as the locus of torture and death and shame. The fact that Christianity has made the cross a symbol of hope and beauty is a good thing, but p…

stained and broken

Recently, I was asked to speak at another church, and the passage of Scripture which was assigned to me was John 1:6-8. "There came a man commissioned and sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe [in Christ, the Light] through him. John was not the Light, but came to testify about the Light." (John 1:6-8, Amplified Bible)

The first question I usually ask when reading something in the Bible is this: What does this tell me about God? Two things are immediately obvious - God is a sending God and God wants to communicate - but there is a third which merits a bit more attention. Though God could communicate directly with humanity, sending truth and love to every individual via some divine mind-and-heart-meld, God chooses to send messengers. Not only that, instead of introducing Jesus directly to the world as the main event, an opening, warm-up act appears as a precursor. What is the point of incorporati…

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…