I need to be reminded often of how small I am. The big problem, is if I go too long without any such reminders, my perspective becomes warped and I start thinking I’m the main character in this story of life. I begin to feel like the events and other characters in “my” story need to be manipulated, moved around to suit this story, the larger scheme of this thing I’m engineering for myself.
I get in a hurry. I run over people in my desperation to make my story do what I think it should. So, after tearing around like this for a while, God finds creative ways to remind me that He’s the one in charge and it’s completely about Him.
One speaker explained that sin makes us think that we are bigger than we are. It gives us an elevated opinion of ourselves. I’ve found that to be true. If there’s any proof of our depravity, it’s our pride.
That “old man” I ditched numerous years ago, is still surprisingly strong sometimes. (He’s the guy who tells me to paint a story in my favor, who urges me to get annoyed at that person with a big ego and to tell others how big headed he is.)
When I feel I’m the main character in the story, I have everything to lose. I need to get others to agree with me to make me feel good about the position I’ve taken. I need them to validate that precious ego. I need them to be building blocks in my stupid tower of self-glorification.
It’s indeed a scary place to be. Because anytime someone threatens to topple me from that precarious and lofty perch I’ve built under myself, I’m forced to defend it. If the story is about me, the story is in grave danger of being hijacked whenever someone makes me look worse to others than I intended.
Image is everything. And in essence, I become an image I spend more and more time worshipping. After that, it becomes easy to sacrifice others on that altar I’ve built to myself.
It also really cripples my ability to minister to anyone. When I’m working overtime to keep myself at the top of the food chain, it blinds me to the needs around me. And even when I notice, it’s strained through the filter of whether or not I will look good doing it.
Self worship is so destructive. God knows it is. That’s why He wants our worship. He knows that if we worship anything but Him, we will get ticked off, frustrated, and start hurting each other. He wants our worship, not just because He deserves it, but also because it’s what’s best for us.
I don’t know why, but it seems like He has to find umpteen different ways to tell me to quit it. No matter how often I’ve tried, I simply can’t find fulfillment in worshipping myself. So, it’s after I’ve run on that treadmill of self elevation, it’s when the things I enjoy cease to fulfill me, it’s when everyone else’s life looks awesome, and everything feels a little numb. It is then that God is able to get my attention pretty easily.
For our last New Year’s Eve party, our youth group watched a sermon by Louie Giglio. It was great. It was just what I needed. I won’t get you bogged down in details, because Louie did a better job of presenting it than I would.
Louie talked about our incredible God. He talked about the God whose infinite universe was created only by speaking. He pointed out that if, He created by speaking, essentially He was breathing forth these massive stars, galaxies, and planets. It’s impossible to imagine how beautiful the Creator is if His creation is so spectacular. Louie blew our minds completely with massive numbers. I felt very tiny.
He then reminded us that this God also created us and loves us like crazy. So much that he died for us. He didn’t die for the stars, for the beautiful, infinite galaxies He created. He died for us. It’s a really beautiful, really humbling thought.
Try hard to wrap your mind around the fact that the same breath that breathed out gigantic stars like Betelgeuse, also breathed life into us. Just take a break and revel in that for a while. It feels pretty good.
Do you have any idea how good I feel when I’m reminded that my role in the story is only to love God and revel in His grace? When we do that it makes it makes it easier to show that love and grace to others. I’ve found almost invariably, that when I’m having a tough time giving people the grace to be themselves and to love them like Jesus would, it’s because I’ve forgotten what God gave me, and started worshipping myself again.
So, this is all a roundabout way to remind you, and also me that it really isn’t about us. I’ve just come off a time of living that way too much. It’s exhausting. Stuff I love: music, food, coffee, friends, laughing. It all starts to feel lame. It’s frustrating, because usually that stuff is so wonderful. It’s icing on the cake. But when I forget what life actually is, and try to get my fuel from eating icing, it takes an inexplicable amount of time to figure out why life has lost its wonder.
Good news: it’s not about you. It’s a comforting thought, really. When it’s not about you, performance doesn’t matter. You don’t have to try to control what people think about you. The pressure is off. You’re free to minister to others and also to revel in God’s love for all of us.
Like the visiting speaker, Verlynn Yoder told us at church last week, “It’s not your party.” It’s an easy thing to forget. I’m just grateful God lets me back into His party; even when I act like the self-centered brat Verlynn talked about. The one who’s invited to the party and gets ticked when he sees the birthday kid getting all the presents. That’s one thing I love about God.