Friday, June 3, 2011

Stooping

"I used to think that God's gifts were one above the other, and the taller we grew in Christian character the more easily we could reach them. I now find that God's gifts are on the shelves one beneath the other and that it is not a question of growing taller but stooping lower."-F.B. Meyer

I am learning to stoop. 

The challenge of learning to stoop is that I cannot find a "Stooping" section in my local Christian bookstore. It seems that few people write books on stooping, hold Stooping Summits, or teach seminars about stooping. I haven't found a 12 Step Stooping program, a "40 Days to a Low-Stooping Life" workbook, nor a Stooper's Prayer. 

The absence of such resources tells me two things. One, "stooping" is not a highly sought after attribute. And two, people who actually learn to stoop low are not inclined to teach others--they have instead assumed a permanent posture of teach-ability. In other words, those who really "get it" are set free from the need to make sure everyone else "gets it" too.

What I do have is the example of Jesus, who is unarguably the greatest stooper of all:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! PH 2:6


He made himself NOTHING. 

All our lives we are taught to make SOMETHING of ourselves. No one teaches us to make NOTHING of ourselves, and I am convinced it is the harder of the two! 

And we get a further description of his nothingness-- "taking the very nature of a servant." I have been asking myself, "What is the nature of servant?" I suppose that a servant exists for the purposes of another person. In essence, a servant's prime (maybe only?) objective is to do the bidding of another. 

What boggles my mind is that Jesus chose to serve those who were, in every way imaginable, beneath him. He was smarter, richer, more powerful, and more righteous than those whom He served. He existed for THEIR purpose. For OUR purpose. He deserved to rule. He chose to serve.

So how, I wonder do I take on the nature of a servant? In the past we as a family have done things like served meals at the Union Gospel Mission, collected toys for needy children, and handed out Thanksgiving Dinners at the Salvation Army. I am glad we did those things, but they were momentary. We did them, and then we went home. It was sort of like borrowing the apron of a servant rather than taking on the very nature of a servant.  

I can serve without having the heart of a servant. However, I can't have the heart of a servant without serving. To take on the nature of a servant means that I am changed from the inside out. Clearly, I need heart surgery. I need a heart transplant. I need a servant's heart.

Truthfully, though I hate to admit it, I think I am still living life for myself, for my own satisfaction, and for my own glory. The evidence? I find myself frustrated or annoyed when things don't go my way. I hold dearly to my ideals--to things that I think are good--even when it seems that God is leading another way. I get my feelings hurt when I am not validated by the praise of men. I struggle to submit to the authorities that God has placed in my life. Those are not the ways of a servant.  

The servant delights in doing the will of the Master. I am still trying to convince the Master that my will has some merit. I stand tall. I refuse to stoop.

Yet, there is hope.

I used to live next to a wheat field. Do you know how the farmer knows that the wheat is ready to be harvested? When wheat is young, its head points straight up, tall and proud. But when the plant matures, the head bows down. When the head bows, the wheat is ready.

 


I am growing weary of being something; weary of standing tall and proud. I think I feel my head beginning to bow. 


"How so?" you ask. 


In little ways, really. I used to resent the fact that David is so particular about how he likes his socks folded, but I have recently found inexplicable joy in folding his socks exactly the way he likes them. I used to despise the fact that this apartment does not have a dishwasher, but lately I turn down my sons' offers of help with the dishes because I am truly happy to do them. I used to want to be a famous speaker and writer, but nowadays I find myself content with anonymity. I wonder if these things are indications that my head is beginning to bow. 

And perhaps a bowed head is the beginning of stooping.   

5 comments:

  1. Great post, Jenn! Thanks for sharing those thoughts.

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  2. Andrew Murray's book 'Humility' is a wonderful "Start" guide to the land of Stoopiness. But be sure... if you do the fast and prayer at the end of the book... God WILL give you lots of opportunity to practice all sorts of new and very painful "death to self" skills. We are praying for all of you over here and it will give me great joy to pray this in... that Jesus would increase, and you decrease... please pray the same for us.

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  3. Beautifully written, my friend! Making me ponder...
    Love you. Miss you.
    tc

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  4. Another great "stooping" book: Digging Ditches by Helen Roseveare.

    http://www.amazon.com/Digging-Ditches-Latest-Chapter-Inspirational/dp/184550058X

    Just gave the book to Susan so who knows you can borrow it after...

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  5. Shelly SchornickJune 13, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Did not read this post until today...think God gave it to me. Like a dagger in my heart. The one I need heart surgery on! So much going on in our lives and God is using your family in France, of all places, to speak to me....how ironic. I will be getting both books recommended by your followers and will continue my journey to be more like Jesus rather than myself!

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