My family's trip to Oklahoma was a good one. The highlight was the celebration of my parents' golden wedding anniversary (photo in the previous post). We had it just after Sunday evening worship. Folks from church combined with other friends from the community to make it a memorable event.
One friend had recorded a special CD with music from the mid-1950s, the perfect background. Another long-time friend of ours scanned dozens of photos--beginning with the black-and-white wedding pictures--and created a terrific slide presentation. My sister snagged the best cake decorator in the southwest, one Veronica who knocked herself out. Such a nice time. Oh, and then there were Frank and Joy Bellizzi, who gave the moment its significance. My parents are great people.
It doesn't seem possible that my Mom and Dad have been married for 50 years. And I've only been around for 42 of those years. Anyway, here's to many more.
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Micah 6:1-8 was the text for yesterday morning's sermon. Naturally, I zeroed in on the punch line in verse 8. Just an excerpt from the sermon. On the part about walking "humbly with your God" . . .
Humbleness or humility is a slippery sort of quality. Just about the time you're sure you have it, it's a sure thing you don't. In his book, "Wishful Thinking," Frederick Beuchner writes:
"Humility is often confused with the polite self-deprecation of sayng that you're not much of a bridge player when you know perfectly well that you are. Conscious or otherwise, this kind of humility is a form of gamesmanship.
If you really aren't much of a bridge player, you're apt to be rather proud of yourself for admitting it so humbly. This kind of humility is a low form of comedy.
True humility does not consist of thinking ill of yourself, but of not thinking of yourself much differently from the way you'd be apt to think of anybody else. It is the capacity for being no more and no less pleased when you play your own hand well than when your opponents do."
Well said. But it raises the question, How, then, does a person develop that pure form of being humble? I think the answer is found in the way that Micah issues the expectation. He doesn't say, "Walk humbly." He says, "Walk humbly with your God."
When people pen the history of architecture in the 20th century, one name that will come up many times is the name Frank Lloyd Wright, the great American architect. When he died in 1959, someone recalled something that Wright had once said, a statement that helps me understand the significance of the words, "with your God."
Wright said, "Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change."
It seems that, for all of his talent, Frank Lloyd Wright failed to see that there was a third alternative. He didn't really have to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. Because whenever we acknowledge and live with the truth that all of our abilities and opportunities are gifts from God, then we know what the architect might have called "honest humility."
When we are authentically humble, it's not because we've successfully overlooked or downplayed our significance; it's because we have seen and appreciated our significance and immediately said, "Thank you, God."
I am amazed at your majesty, and I thank you for great things you do all the time. I'm most grateful for that ultimate and miraculous condescension by which you came to us in Jesus.
Father, when I am close to you, I am humble. When I walk in your light, I know the joy that comes from your presence. So draw me near you and help me stay there, because really that's where I want to be all the time.
Father, for the times when I've wandered off, please forgive me. I don't understand it. So as it is with my other faults and sins, I'll depend on you to heal me and make me better. My confidence is that I know you can and will.
For I ask you in Jesus' name, Amen.