Monday, October 18, 2010

His Ways Are Higher

To say that the past month has been a lesson in humility would be an understatement.
I've spent the past few weeks laying on the couch, in more pain than I've ever experienced in my life.  Surgeries, sickness, and infections have been my unwelcome, but constant companions. 

I'm not a very compassionate person when it comes to most illnesses. I don't bow to sickness, I plow through it. I've always had the mindset of "Put on your big girl panties, suck it up, and deal with it." But this time, God had a different lesson for me. 

A week ago, I was supposed to be on a women's retreat with my wonderful church. While there, I was supposed to be teaching sessions on practicing graciousness and hospitality, including a few comments on being hospitable by being a gracious receiver. I'd had my outline ready, (at least mentally) and was ready to roll. Of course, I didn't end up going. While my closest friends were spending their first day of the retreat at the beach, I was pacing the house in the worst day of pain of my whole life. Instead of talking about showing hospitality to others, I was forced to the receiving end. And my, oh my - did God have some lessons for me.

Offers to bring meals starting pouring in from friends and neighbors. Although I'd normally thank them and say no, this time I was forced to start saying yes. This has always been SO hard for me. Why? Countless reasons, I guess. I'd believed the lie that it's always better to be the giver than the receiver. But this isn't what Jesus tried to teach us. When He sat at the feet of His disciples and washed their feet, He was serving them. He wanted them to willingly receive His blessing. If I want to be blessed, I have to be willing to receive it!

Another reason - the attitude of "I don't need anyone else." This is another lie. I think of the woman at the well, who was out in mid day getting water. Normally women were never out at that time in the heat of the day, but she was. I believe she didn't want to be seen by others, and that she found a false sense of security in her seclusion.  Women are still like that now, don't you think? We believe that as long as we don't reveal our true self, our short comings, our neediness, that we're ok. What a lie! The old saying that no man is an island is true. It's not how God created us to be.

If I love being the giver, that means someone else has to be on the receiving end of my giving. How would I practice the gift of hospitality to others if no one ever let me give? These past few weeks, I've had to remind myself that people have been giving generously because they want to. I'll even go as far as saying that allowing someone to give me a blessing is a way of blessing them!  Giving reflects the heart of God. It's His joy to bless us, and He wants us to joyfully receive. We glorify Him by receiving all He has to offer. 

So the past few weeks have found me graciously saying "Yes, thank you" more than I ever have in my life.  As with any new habit, the more I say it, the easier it becomes. The truth is, all these people have helped me get by. The meals have been a life saver. The prayers have pulled me through. All the help has given me an incredible reminder of just how many amazing people God has put in my life. 

While I hope the lingering of my infections pass quickly, I hope the lessons I've learned stay around for a long, long time. Most of all, I've been reminded of God's goodness. He never leaves me or forsakes me. Praise the Lord, Oh my soul! 

Psalm 103
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
       all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
       and forget not all his benefits-
 3 who forgives all your sins
       and heals all your diseases,
 4 who redeems your life from the pit
       and crowns you with love and compassion,
 5 who satisfies your desires with good things
       so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
 6 The LORD works righteousness
       and justice for all the oppressed.
 7 He made known his ways to Moses,
       his deeds to the people of Israel:
 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
       slow to anger, abounding in love.
 9 He will not always accuse,
       nor will he harbor his anger forever;
 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
       or repay us according to our iniquities.
 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
       so great is his love for those who fear him;
 12 as far as the east is from the west,
       so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
 13 As a father has compassion on his children,
       so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
 14 for he knows how we are formed,
       he remembers that we are dust.
 15 As for man, his days are like grass,
       he flourishes like a flower of the field;
 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
       and its place remembers it no more.
 17 But from everlasting to everlasting
       the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
       and his righteousness with their children's children-
 18 with those who keep his covenant
       and remember to obey his precepts.
 19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
       and his kingdom rules over all.
 20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
       you mighty ones who do his bidding,
       who obey his word.
 21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
       you his servants who do his will.
 22 Praise the LORD, all his works
       everywhere in his dominion.
       Praise the LORD, O my soul.