Meekness and Rest

In one of his most profound statements in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Even then, this was an astonishing statement. The world sees meekness as weakness. According to Vocabulary.com: “The adjective meek describes a person who is willing to go along with whatever other people want to do, like a meek classmate who won’t speak up, even when he or she is treated unfairly.” Why then did Jesus suggest that meekness is a strength?

In The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer pointed out that the world turns every virtue of The Beatitudes wrong side out. Instead of displaying poverty of spirit, mankind displays the worst forms of pride. Instead of mourning sin and suffering, man indulges himself with every kind of pleasure. Instead of walking humbly and meekly before God, man struts around inflated with pride and self-importance. Instead of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, man chases money and things. Instead of striving to be pure in heart, man delights in sin and corruption. Instead of making peace, man quarrels and sows discord. Instead of accepting mistreatment at the hands of others, man fights back with every weapon at hand.

Unlike most people, Jesus was meek and humble. Although he did not fight back when he was treated unfairly, no one would ever claim that Jesus was a pushover who did whatever other people wanted to do.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

Mathew 11:28-30 (Modern English Version)

Tozer made an interesting connection between the meekness of Jesus and his promise to give rest to those who are heavily burdened. Was Jesus speaking about physical labor? What is this heavy burden borne by mankind?

Pride is a terrible burden. Look at how hard we work to build the self up and to defend the self from insult, slights and criticism. It is hard and tiring labor to constantly fight to protect and defend our wounded pride.

The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed.

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.

We don’t have to bear this burden. Jesus calls us to him for rest. Being meek like Jesus is the way we find rest from the heavy burden of pride.

A meek man sees himself honestly, both the good and the bad. He knows that the world will never see him as God sees him. He know that he doesn’t have to be perfect to be beloved by God!

Pretense is also a heavy burden. It takes a lot of energy to pretend to be what you’re not. It takes tremendous effort to always put your best foot forward, to always make a good impression, to craft the perfect social media image. It is indeed a heavy burden to hide the pain, the failures, the awkwardness, the self-doubt, and imperfection.

In Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr also addressed the issue of pretense but he referred to it as your shadow self.

Your shadow is what you refuse to see about yourself, and what you do not want others to see. The more you have cultivated and protected a chosen persona, the more shadow work you will have to do.

Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

Rohr wrote, “your self-image is not worth protecting, promoting or denying.” But letting go of this desire to protect the self is not easy. Today, I found myself automatically wanting to defend myself from criticism that wounded my pride. I had to tell myself, let it go. It’s not worth it.

When we learn to die to the self, we are free from the bondage of pride.

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me just as I am, flawed and imperfect. Help me to think of myself less. Help me to be meek and lowly in heart. Free me from the heavy burdens of pride and pretense.

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Photo by GUNJAN BHATTACHARJEE on Unsplash

Thank you, Jesus for walking with me

Lord Jesus, since I was a little girl, you have walked beside me wherever I go. Because you are with me, I will not lose heart. I am hard pressed on every side, but I am not crushed. I am struck down, but not destroyed. I am perplexed, but not driven to despair. I am ridiculed for your name’s sake, but not forsaken.

When you walk beside me, I am strong and courageous. I am not afraid. I am not discouraged.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

I am comforted by your presence. I am encouraged by your presence. I am strengthened by your presence. My cup overflows.

Thank you, Jesus, my rock and my redeemer.

Amen.

A Prayer for the Church

Heavenly Father, thank you for this new day. This morning, I remembered a childhood rhyme we recited on our way to church. We would interlace our fingers, placing our thumbs parallel to each other. Then we would say, ‘here’s the church.’ We would lift our index fingers, touch them together and say, ‘here’s the steeple.’ Finally, we would turn our hands out with the fingers still interlaced and say as we wiggled them, ‘open the door and see all the people.’ 

Tomorrow on what is normally one of the most “peopley” days of the year, most churches around the world will be empty. As they have for the past few weeks, pastors and priests, musicians and others who serve in the church have recorded a service for Easter Sunday. The people will watch from the safety of their homes.

Jesus, today I remember what you said to the woman at the well about places of worship. She said that her ancestors worshiped on the mountain but you Jews claim that the place we must worship is in Jerusalem. You said to her, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 

Jesus, Messiah, this pandemic is proof that true worshipers do not need a physical building to worship you. We worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth! We will gather together virtually to pray and sing your praises. 

Lord, just as you warned, there are many false prophets and teachers out there, including those who promote the false prosperity gospel and those who falsely link religion and politics. I pray that those who lead people astray will be revealed for what they are and that people will discern the truth. You cannot serve both God and money. You cannot serve both God and political power. You alone are God. You alone are sovereign.

Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. As Isaiah prophesied, you were pierced for our transgressions, you were crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on you, and by your wounds we are healed. 

Father, I pray for the body of believers. I pray for the clergy who lead us. Help us to grow spiritually through this challenging time of physical distancing. May we let our lights shine in the darkness so that others will see our good deeds and glorify you.

Amen


Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

My Daily Prayer: The Jesus Creed

For Lent, my church has been studying The Jesus Creed, a book based on the response Jesus gave when a scribe asked, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?” We were challenged to get into the habit of reciting the Jesus Creed everyday, morning and night. I tried and failed.

The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:29-31

The first part of Christ’s response is the Shema, a Jewish prayer. Jews recited this prayer morning and night: ‘Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One’. Jesus added the command, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ giving it great importance. Even people who do not believe in Jesus know this great command. They watch as too many Christians fail to practice it.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is one of the greatest challenges of life. Even more so, when you understand that your neighbors are not just your friends but also your enemies.

May this be my daily prayer. God, I love you with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength. Lord Jesus, help me to love as you taught me to love.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

A Prayer for Families

Dear God, thank you for this day. Thank you for my big extended family. I miss Mom and Dad and Greg but still have 7 brothers and sisters, 8 brothers- and sisters-in-law, 24 nieces and nephews, and 20 great nieces and nephews with 2 more expected this year.

I count my blessings.

Lord Jesus, I bring my concerns about families, not just my own, and lay them at your feet.

I pray for families facing the challenges of physical distancing. I heard a story about sandwich parents who had to split up so that one can provide in-home care to a parent while the other stays home with the kids. Friends who want to visit their elderly parents have to make signs and look at them through the window. Grandparents can’t physically be with their beloved grandchildren.

I pray for families facing the challenges of physical closeness. Too much togetherness can be challenging for anyone. We get on each other’s nerves. My introverted niece expressed her frustration yesterday at how hard it is to work from home with three kids constantly interrupting and making noise. She needs peace and quiet and time to recharge her batteries at the end of the day. She could use help to juggle everything she needs to do.

Lord, I pray for those who live alone, especially for those who can no longer go outside the home to interact with other people.

Lord, I pray for dysfunctional families. Even in the best of times, dysfunctional families don’t provide the love, care, and safety that a family should provide. I bring my concerns about those who face physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and lay them at your feet. Hear their cries for help.

Amen

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Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash