“But I am a worm —“
“If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
Of all our family Christmas traditions, the oldest is our late-night viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas Eve as we wrap presents. I never get tired of the story, the performances, or the overall tone of the film.
The story of a suicidal man getting a glimpse of what a void there’d be if he never lived resonates at so many levels, one of which is humility. Can a man like George Bailey accept his importance in God’s plan without getting egotistical? I think he can, with some effort, insight, and balance.
Even Worms Have Their Place
There’s humility, which God loves, then there’s cringing, which He doesn’t.
The humble believer knows her or his place, but that’s the point: knowing your place means knowing both the lowliness and the glory of the position you’re in. It’s yet another of those crazy-beautiful mind-benders God lets us wrestle with.
Like predestination – did I have free will to refuse when He called me, or was the deal already sealed? Or faith versus works – does what I do please God, or is it only the faith with which I do it?
Eventually, I give up after going back and forth on this stuff, and instead find myself reveling in the fact that I was called, and (amazingly) can please Him, whether I had anything to do say about it or not. I don’t get it, but that won’t keep me from rolling around in it.
So it is with confidence. On the one hand, if we’re aware of God’s grace and our unworthiness, then we, like Paul, place no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3) That enhances humility, willingness to forgive others as we’ve been forgiven, caution about our propensity to sin, and a healthy fear of God. He’s not our Bro nor our BFF, so a lack of reverence only proves ignorance of who He is and who we are before Him.
And yet, humble boldness isn’t a contradiction. I may be a worm, but the grace, privileges, and powers bestowed on me by the Lover of Worms make my life Worm-derful.
As someone made righteous in Him I’m promised that my fervent prayers have power (James 5:16). I’m been seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:6) a privilege He thought up, not me. I’m expected to do the work He did and (according to Him, mind you!) greater works. (John 14:12) Provision of my needs is guaranteed (Philippians 4:19) by a Provider who knows my request before I make it (Matthew 6:8) who is inclined to answer with more than I ask or even think. (Ephesians 3:20)
I’m also called something more than a Conqueror, (Romans 8:37) and it’s fun to toss that idea around, because what’s the next level beyond Conqueror? And I’m complete in Him ( Colossians 2:10) so in light of what He’s made me and bestowed on me, I’m expected to stride right into the throne room and state my cause. (Hebrews 4:16)
Too Good to be True; Too True to be Avoided
OK, I’m all for being in awe of this, because it’s awe-inspiring. But shrinking from it isn’t an option, because shying away from God-given privileges and powers isn’t humility. It’s stupidity at least; sin at most.
Today, this seems relevant to me, because everyone I know who takes their walk seriously lives with the tension of blowing it regularly, caring about it when we do, and as a result, developing a hesitant attitude towards God
But if we let the awareness of our own shortcomings cripple our confidence, then we must have lost sight of something critical: God called us to live fruitfully and victoriously, already knowing all there was to know about those shortcomings!
We’re not called to shed every weight in order to be counted worthy to run the race. Rather, we’re called to shed them because we ARE in the race, pre-qualified by Him, and expected to take the weight seriously enough to throw it aside. We’re likewise expected to take the race seriously enough to run it with confidence that our Coach is behind us and before us, equipping us with needed strength, and shouting encouragement from the sidelines.
Two facts seem to always vie for our attention: We always fall short (“O wretched man that I am!”) but we’re never to draw back. (“Come boldly”) I find the first easier to grasp than the second, because hey, tangible evidence of my sinfulness is a lot easier to spot than my More Than Conqueror’s suit.
God of the “Go For It”
But then again, don’t you find that in both testaments, God seems to love the attitude of the woman or man who says “God’s for us, so who can be against us?” Look at the battles in Joshua, the assurances in the Sermon on the Mount, and the audacity of the early church in Acts. All of which tells me that if we have to choose between being too hesitant or being too presumptuous, God favors “Let’s go for it!” more than “Gee, I
I once heard Pastor Chuck Smith say, “Expect God to bless you.” At the time, that didn’t sit well with me, because it seemed arrogant. But decades later I think I see what he meant. God is not neutral when it comes to our well-being, nor our victory in this race. He is for us, not passively observing.
The desires of our heart have been, more often than not, implanted by Him in order to be met by Him, so there’s no reason not to expect Him to answer our heart cries for our loved ones, meet our basic needs, or intervene when we beseech Him to. And if Jesus used a pushy woman pounding at the door as a positive illustration for approaching God, ( Luke 18:1-8) then what does that tell us about holy stubbornness versus natural shyness?
So let’s be serious in getting our hearts right before God this Christmas, then seeking Him to meet our heart’s desires, and expecting Him to respond as He promised. Confidently, enjoying the peace confidence in Him brings. We can make our lives a lot easier and more effective today by shaking off any reluctance to take Him at His word.
His credit’s good, after all. Scripture affirms it, and really, doesn’t His history with you prove it as well? Mine does, and if I wrote an autobiography it would take only three sentences:
- All the promises in Him are Yea and Amen (II Corinthians 1:20) because it’s His good pleasure to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32) so whosoever will may come. (Revelation 22:17)
- Therefore, Christianity’s for bold sinners.
- Count me in.
Hope the Holidays are, thus far, bringing you more joy than stress! God bless.