I had an ah-hah moment today. It came out of the clear blue sky as I was listening to a song during spirituality classes at Bonita House.
Living and serving God from a position of humility mixed with gratitude trumps "striving" by my own efforts to "be" something for God.
I often say that God knows we are limited and finite. I want to add to that phrase the suggestion that God doesn't hold our limits against us. In fact, the greater our understanding of our limitations and human frailty, the better our position; the more receptive we are to the indwelling power of the Spirit of Truth; the fewer barriers there are to the Spirit working freely in us.
I am a messed up, mixed bag of pride, criticism, confusion, self-righteousness and "good" intentions. If I will be honest with myself and take a good, long look in the mirror, I am left with a profound feeling of gratitude toward God. (And it's important to move on to gratitude and not stay fixated on "messed up," which leaves us living life in a shame-based fashion.)
I am what I am. And yet he loves me.
I am what I am. And yet he uses me.
Compare this position of healthy humility and honesty to one of legalism, which says "If I just keep trying hard enough, I can be that perfect person and show other people how to be perfect too," right? I will be that rock to others. I will be that tree planted by the water. Watch me now, God. From this position, I kid myself that I have a clear understanding of my own shortcomings. But do I? Puffing myself up in false humility, it isn't long until I come to understand in painful ways the meaning of the phrase, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."
Healthy humility leads to gratitude for what Christ has already done and continues to do on our behalf. Unhealthy humility leads to guilt and shame. False humility leads to legalism, disillusionment, and a total loss of faith in the extreme.
When we understand just how far we fall short of God's ideal and place that on top of just how much He loves us in spite of ourselves, we realize our need for his presence in our lives, especially if we are going to accomplish anything with eternal value.
Position is everything.