Since our preparation to move abroad and during the time of our service overseas, we have been flooded with compliments, honor, and unwarranted praise.
You are such an inspiration!
I’m so in awe of the work you do!
I could never sacrifice the things you have!
Kind words have flooded our inboxes. Encouragers have tickled our ears. We have been overly blessed by the support of friends far and wide.
But so often I fear that so many of my Christian brothers and sisters have misdirected their admiration.
Today I caught up with a new Finnish friend over coffee. I spilled some crazy exciting news to her about how our opportunities here are rapidly developing, and how thrilled we are to be joining the Father in the work He is doing in this country.
If you had spoken to us last month, I told her, we were so deflated. We were feeling so incapable, so broken, like we weren’t cut out for this lifestyle at all. And now, this??
It usually happens like that, she said. We are brought to our knees just before the Father makes a really big move…so that He can remind us who is really at work in the hearts and lives of His people.
I was so thankful for her truthful wisdom. I was so grateful that she understood.
I was also relieved by her response.
She countered my excitement in a way that deflected the glory back to the only One who deserves it. And we sat for a moment just amazed by the Overwhelming Goodness of our Creator.
We studied the passage of the Rich Young Ruler recently at our Sunday Gathering.
This set of verses has been a crucial part of my growth in Christ since entering adulthood. Relinquishing the checklist mentality and being willing to give it all up for the Cross are some of the lessons I’ve taken from this short story.
But the Two-edged Sword cut a little deeper this time, drawing me into the Savior’s response to the Rich Young Ruler’s addressing him as Good Teacher.
Why do you call me good? He said. No one is good, that is, except God.
It was then that I understood this unsettling feeling that I’ve had lately.
The well-intentioned words of honor and glory directed toward me are always so kind, but they aren’t mine to accept. They ultimately belong to the Father.
If Christ couldn’t even claim the title of Good, surely I am far from worthy of accepting even the least amount of praise.
I am not writing to anyone specifically. I am the greatest at fault when I accept personal accolades without refuting such attention and bringing focus back to God myself.
Still, I don’t want to be someone who people look at and say, Wow—she is doing some really awesome things.
I want to be someone who other people look at and say, Wow—I want to walk beside her in what she’s doing, because God is doing some pretty awesome things in and through her.
I don’t want to be a good person. I want to be someone who makes famous the goodness of God.
So I sit back and wonder what the world would see if we quit patting each other on the back. What if every time we felt a person accomplished something for the Kingdom, we instead fell to our knees in wonder and amazement of the Redeemer at work?
What if the thing we rejoiced in were our weaknesses? What if the thing we glorified were our failures?
What if we really believed we aren’t that good after all, but only earthly vessels being used by a Heavenly Being to accomplish the goals He set in motion from the beginning?
I don’t want to be an inspiration. I don’t want to praised.
I want to be completely given over to the plans He has for me, and I want to see my brothers and sisters completely given over, too.
This behavioral shift and cognitive change isn’t something I can lead anyone in.
Perhaps you can only understand it when you’ve seen JUST HOW INCAPABLE you are to start some kind of spiritual awakening.
The only thing I can do is encourage. I can champion you on to do hard things. To stick your neck out there. To step out in faith.
And I can testify of the Father’s provision. I can tell you how He’ll be there. How He’ll teach you. How He’ll overwhelm you.
And then I can stand beside you. Or kneel beside you, rather. Because we will both be looking up at a magnificent King and finally be able to understand what Good really looks like.