One Saturday afternoon last summer, a friend and I were reflecting on a well-concluded year in the ministry of MOPS. I was on a high. I had led ten young moms through discussion, playdates, nights outs, friendships for an entire year, and results were there. I had perfect attendance for most of the weeks of the second semester. Great relationships had been built. We had completed a parenting book together outside of our meetings. I was the go-to person many of these mamas went to when they had questions. Three of them were joining the leadership team the following year. I would be lying if I didn't say I was patting myself on the back quite nicely. I had been pretty awesome that year.
During that Saturday afternoon, I asked my friend: "If the Lord has given me such talents [the gift of being plain ol' awesome], where does God fit in after the gift has already been given? After all, it was I who led these women. It was I the one brought them together and encouraged them and helped them thrive." I was basically saying -- how lucky of the Lord to have me.
The question was left in the air. My friend may have said something wise or true. Something to correct me, maybe. But I was too wrapped up in my own self-centerness and awesomeness to pay any attention.
This moment was the beginning of a (so far) year-long story, during which the Lord began to tear me down.
"If you think I [the Lord] am a small god that you can keep at safe distance, I will pounce upon you like a roaring lion, tear you to pieces, rip you to shreds, and break every bone in your body. Then I will mend you, cradle you in my arms, and kiss you tenderly" -- Brennan Manning.
And such is my story.
Attacks by man.
And a whole lot of man-fearing.
Irony would have it that my following year serving as a table leader in MOPS was not as awesome as my previous year. So I began panicking and asking myself: "What am I doing wrong, what do I need to improve, who can I blame for this?" I'm ashamed to admit that this line of thinking lasted for the majority of the year, before the Lord in his kindness spoke to my heart: "It's not you, it's never been you doing any of this." Then Deuteronomy 8:17,18 comes knocking on my door:
"You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today."
Aaaahhhh... "it is he who gives you the ability..."
You mean to say, Lord, that everything good that I do does not come from within me, but from within you?
I've known this truth in my mind for years...
But could it be that I now understand it in my heart as well?
Could it be that my self-centerness and arrogance and pride are the very things the Lord continues to allow me to struggle with, so that I would be reminded of my inability to meet God's standard of perfection, and thus falling on my knees time and time again, asking the Lord to forgive me and to hurry back?
Could it be that the Lord does not accomplish his work because of me, but in spite of me?
Could it be that I'm really not all that awesome?