Step 7 Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Psalm 51: 1-2, Philippians 4:6-7, Matthew 6:7-8
We started the sermon with a little hymn of humility. Or was that him of humility? Everyone joined in on the chorus – so sing along if you know it!
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror `cause I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me I must be a hell of a man.
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble but I’m doing the best that I can.
1) I used to have a girlfriend but she just couldn’t compete
with all of these love starved women who keep clamoring at my feet.
Well I prob’ly could find me another but I guess they’re all in awe of me.
Who cares, I never get lonesome `cause I treasure my own company.
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble…
2) I guess you could say I’m a loner, a cowboy outlaw tough and proud.
I could have lots of friends if I want to
but then I wouldn’t stand out from the crowd.
Some folks say that I’m egotistical. Hell, I don’t even know what that means.
I guess it has something to do with the way that I fill out my skin tight blue jeans.
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble…
(Mac Davis 1980)
Mac Davis wrote this song when he woke up all alone in the `Star Suite’ at some hotel – and reflected on the mythology of the high life of a musician. Humility eh. It’s not a word we really know how to deal with. Here we are at Step seven, humbly asking God to remove our short comings. `What shortcomings?’ the song seems to say!
Now if God already knows what we need, and cares for us so much, why do step seven? Are we trying to talk God into doing things? Does the group with the most and best prayers win? Are we trying to get God on our side? Rohr writes: “If, in prayer, we are trying to take control, we know we’re on the wrong track.”
Anne Lamott, one of my favourite writes puts it even more blatantly when she says, “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Rohr reminds us of the purpose of prayer. “We ask not to change God but to change ourselves. We pray to form a living relationship, not to get things done.” P60-61
The answer to every prayer is one, the same and the best – being connected, tuned in to the Holy Spirit. In Luke 11:13 Jesus, in teaching the disciples to pray says, “If you, who are evil (you humans with all your defects of character) know how to give good things to your children, how much more will God give the Holy spirit to those who ask.”
The downfall of any relationship with anybody – be it friend, partner, God, is to have a sense of `entitlement’, any notion of “I deserve, I am owed, I have a right to…” This undermines faith hope and love between people. It also fools us in to thinking there is nothing about us that needs to change.
Rohr says we can never engineer or guide our own transformation or conversion. If we try, it will be a self-centred and sell-controlled version of conversion, with most of my preferences and addictions still fully in place but now well disguised. P63
This gives a deeper meaning to Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:29 about the weeds and wheat growing together. I was thinking about this parable this week, while trying to disentangle buttercups that were well-woven into clumps of flowers, and trying to hold back the oregano which it trying to take over the world. Jesus cautions, “If you try to pull out the weeds, you might pull out the wheat along with it.”
There may be a characteristic that some love about who you are, and some hate – so is it weeds or wheat? Is it a defect or an asset?
If we can humbly step out of the way, and not get defensive, but let God work with who we are, knowing that we are deeply loved, we can move forward.
It is only God/ a Power great than ourselves that can radically change the central reference point of our lives… If I think the central reference point in life is `me’ there is no room for you, there is no room for God.
Gerald May writes: Addiction uses up our spiritual desire. We keep going back to that which ultimately cannot satisfy. Rohr reminds us that `A daily and chosen attitude of gratitude will keep our hearts and hands open to expect and receive the gift of life, without ever thinking we deserve it. He writes, “In my experience, if you are not radically grateful every day, resentment always take over.” P65
Who wants to live in resentment? It is soul-sucking. It’s the most sure-fire way to kill the spirit. With gratitude and humility, let’s open our lives to God’s healing grace. Don’t be afraid to ask.