The Surprising Gift of Saying Yes

20170614_fritz_sayingyes_1024Brenda and I met in the lounge of a transitional home for women where she and thirty other women were working to rebuild their shattered lives. Amongst mismatched sofas and coffee tables that had seen better days, I helped this sixty-two-year-old woman prepare for her GED exam.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I volunteered to tutor Brenda. Would we hit it off? Become friends? Or would the relationship remain that of tutor and student?

Truth be told, Brenda and I had very little in common. She is African-American. I am the palest of white you can imagine. She was raised in the South. I grew up in the tundra-country of Wisconsin. Brenda had many years of hard living on the streets. I live in relative comfort.

But none of that mattered when we got together. Read on at (in)courage.

When You Struggle to Yes to God’s Plan–Part 2

Do you struggle with saying yes to God's plan, because you wish He would simply rubber stamp YOUR plan

I was in a snit with God.

Things were not going well in my writing career. My personal life was experiencing technical difficulties. There were even troubles at my church.

Everything seemed to be a struggle and I couldn’t explain it. Why were things so hard? Life would be so much better if God would just look at MY plan for life, rubber stamp it, and give me everything I wanted.

The trouble was, this attitude was was building a wall between me and God.

Somehow that wall remained invisible for a while, but after awhile I began to see it clearly. And when I took a closer look at it, I saw it was built of pride. This wall was clearly built of bricks of: “I deserve better” or “My plan is superior to God’s.” I couldn’t say yes to my current situation because I thought my way was better than God’s.

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. God throws a situation in your lap that is nearly impossible to accept. You struggle with saying yes to God’s plan because you simply can’t understand why He doesn’t like your plan better!

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was given a difficult situation. She was asked to yes to a plan that included being pregnant before marriage. This plan came with a certain dose of humiliation. She probably heard whispers of, “What  a tramp!” and “Joseph deserves so much better” as she walked the streets of Nazareth. And yet Mary said yes to God’s plan.

How was Mary able to say yes? Because of humility. Listen to her words from Luke 1:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.”

Luke 1:46-47

Mary magnified the Lord–not herself. She rejoiced in God–not in her superior plan. She talked about her humble estate–not how she deserved better.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think that it was easy for Mary to yes to God’s plan. After all she was selected for the most special role any woman could have—she was going to be the mother of the Savior. Who wouldn’t want to be the most special?

But think about it—very few people during Mary’s lifetime truly understood her unique calling. Most people would have seen her either as a tramp, someone who violated God’s laws, or as a crazy person, someone claiming to have a virgin birth.

And that’s why it’s so amazing that she responded to Gabriel with the words, “Let it be to me as you have said.” Her humility enabled her to say yes to God.

Mary was able to say yes to God because she understood her small life was a piece of God’s big plan.

Perhaps you also struggle with accepting life as it is right now. Sometimes it’s hard to say yes to God’s plan because we wish for a bigger stage or a heftier reward. We want something more exciting or more romantic or more beautiful. Life just seems so—ordinary.

You may feel like you are nothing special. But the Bible tells us that each of us has been selected for a unique calling (Ephesians 4:10). Only one woman is mother to your children. Only one woman is the wife of your husband. Only one woman can minister to the needs of your church with your specific God-given gifts. Only one woman can reach into your world with your particular skill set.

When we feel ordinary we need to remember that is not how God sees us.

God sees you as special. God sees you as unique. God sees you as a one-of-a-kind person with a one-of-a-kind life.

All those tears you wipe away, all those dishes you wash, all those memos you type all add up to one incredible life when you see them through God’s eyes.

We can say yes to God when in humility we see our small lives as an essential part of God’s grand plan.

Question: What does it mean to you to see your life as an important part of God’s grand plan?

Read Part 1 of “When You Struggle to Say Yes to God’s Plan”

 Luke 146

 

 

 

The Impact of Humility

DiVineblogtour_3

In sixth grade I had a spectacular fall because of a bit of pride.

The school I attended was part of a large church. During the school year each class took turns singing for the church services. Well, in sixth grade our entire class was learning to play the recorder. And we were getting pretty good. One day our teacher, Mr. Giese, announced that our class was going to perform for an evening service. Most of the class would sing, but three of us would be chosen to play the recorder part. I tried to play it cool when I was picked to be one of the three, but inside I was bursting with—I might as well say it—pride. 

Before the church service that night, I changed into my dress—and my first pair of pantyhose! (Believe it or not—there was a time when pantyhose were cool.) I was really going to wow everyone: new dress, recorder, and pantyhose.

When I got to the church, I climbed the stairs to the balcony with my beloved recorder. With each step I heard the organ music grow louder. At the top of the steps I paused at the back of the balcony and looked down the short, steep flight of stairs to the front of the balcony. Mr. Giese was at the organ in front of me. Most of my classmates were already in the pews on either side of the aisle. Good. I could make a grand entrance.

I took a step. And another. Then disaster struck. Somehow I tripped and landed on my bottom with a thud loud enough for Mr. Giese to hear me above the organ music. Loud enough for him to stop playing and look to see what had happened. Loud enough for all the kids in my class to shake with quiet-as-possible laughter.

I looked down at my pantyhose. Both knees had holes the size of dinner plates. A million runners scampered up each leg. My brand new pantyhose were no longer so impressive.

My sixth-grade experience was a perfect example of Proverbs 16:18:

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

While that encounter with pride led to a literal fall, there have been many more times when my better-than-you attitude has resulted in humiliating failure. What is it about pride that trips me up? I think it may cause me to fall because I’m looking down at other people rather than watching where I’m going. I’m too busy staring at myself to notice any potential dangers. I’m so worried about how I look, I forget to look around me.

In order to avoid the consequences of pride, I need to wear humility more often. Humility isn’t a hot style today. You don’t see too many celebrities wearing it. But it makes a unique fashion statement.

It’s unique because almost everyone in the world is like me—they wear pride. When I’m wearing pride I’m concerned about one person and one person only—me. But humility? Humility thinks about others.

Pride continually gazes at a mirror. Humility looks at the girl next to her.

Pride focuses attention on herself. Humility asks her friend how she is doing.

Pride expects praise. Humility looks for ways to build up others.

Pride demands to be first. Humility pushes others to the front of the line.

Pride wonders what others think of her. Humility just thinks of others.

The night my pantyhose-recorder pride caused such an impressive fall, I snuck downstairs after the service to wait for my parents. While I was hiding behind a pillar to conceal my hideous legs, I overheard a man say to his wife on their way out of church, “Do you know what made that sonic boom before the service began?” That was not the kind of impact I had wanted to make.

It’s natural to want to impress everyone around us with our beauty, our intelligence, our skills. But the truth is—we will make a bigger impact on the world when we wear humility.

Question: Who do you know that exhibits humility?

Divine Makeover001

This post was adapted from my new book for teens and young women:

Divine Makeover: God Makes You Beautiful.

Perhaps you have been looking for a resource for your youth group or a study to do with your daughter. Or maybe you need a confirmation or graduation gift for a lovely young woman.

Check out Divine Makeover at CPH and Amazon.

How to Avoid a Fall

fall

In sixth grade I had a spectacular fall because of a bit of pride.

The school I attended was part of a large church. During the school year each class took turns singing for the church services. Well, in sixth grade our entire class was learning to play the recorder. And we were getting pretty good. One day our teacher, Mr. Giese, announced that our class was going to perform for an evening service. Most of the class would sing, but three of us would be chosen to play the recorder part. I tried to play it cool when I was picked to be one of the three, but inside I was bursting with—I might as well say it—pride. 

Before the church service that night, I changed into my dress—and my first pair of pantyhose! (Believe it or not—there was a time when pantyhose were cool.) I was really going to wow everyone tonight: new dress, recorder, and pantyhose.

When I got to the church, I climbed the stairs to the balcony with my beloved recorder. With each step I heard the organ music grow louder. At the top of the steps I paused at the back of the balcony and looked down the short flight of stairs to the front of the balcony. Mr. Giese was at the organ in front of me. Most of my classmates were already in the pews on either side of the aisle. Good. I could make a grand entrance.

I took a step. And another. Then disaster struck. Somehow I tripped and landed on my bottom with a thud loud enough for Mr. Giese to hear me above the organ music. Loud enough for him to stop playing and look to see what had happened. Loud enough for all the kids in my class to shake with quiet-as-possible laughter.

I looked down at my pantyhose. Both knees had holes the size of dinner plates. A million runners scampered up each leg. My brand new pantyhose were no longer so impressive.

My sixth-grade experience was a perfect example of Proverbs 16:18:

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

While that encounter with pride led to a literal fall, there have been many more times when my better-than-you attitude has resulted in humiliating failure. What is it about pride that trips me up? I think it may cause me to fall because I’m looking down at other people rather than watching where I’m going. I’m too busy staring at myself to notice any potential dangers. I’m so worried about how I look, that I forget to look around me.

In order to avoid the consequences of pride, I need to wear humility more often. The differences between pride and humility are striking:

Pride continually gazes at a mirror. Humility looks at the girl next to her.

Pride tries to focus all attention on herself. Humility asks her friend how she is doing.

Pride expects praise. Humility looks for ways to build up others.

Pride demands to be first. Humility pushes others to the front of the line.

Pride wonders what others think of her. Humility just thinks of others.

Avoid the fall. Wear humility.

Question: Tell about a person you know who demonstrates humility.

pride humility

To find out more about wearing humility, check out my Bible study book, Divine Design: 40 Days of Spiritual Makeover.

Divine Design

 

How to Be the Greatest

 

 

Do you ever feel it? The pressure to be the best? The greatest?

In our culture we award the best actors, honor the greatest athletes, admire the most talented musicians. In this society of celebrity worshipers, it’s easy to get caught up in the quest to be the greatest.

But it turns out that the desire to be the best is nothing new. In my Bible reading the other day, I reread the passage where the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus’ answer is a little surprising,

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:4

As I thought about Jesus’ words I asked myself: What is it about a child that God wants me to emulate?

Because, as we all know, children can be wonderful bundles of joy. But they can also be demanding, stubborn, and, well, crabby. I don’t think that those are the qualities that Jesus wants us to emulate.

Here are a few childlike qualities that I think God wants us to have:

  • A children is mostly a receiver. Children depend on their parents or caregivers to provide for them. I think I often work at my relationship with God too much, instead of simply opening up my hands and heart to receive His love.
  • A child does not expect to be great. Children are generally humble. I keep forgetting that humility is the way to greatness in God’s kingdom.
  • A child fails often but picks himself up and tries again. Children fall hundreds of times while they are learning to walk. They don’t expect to be able to do it perfectly right away. I berate myself when I’m not successful at something the first time. I’m reluctant to try again.
  • A child finds joy in little things. One of the great joys of being a parent is seeing the world through young eyes. The sight of a butterfly, the tickle of tall grass on little legs, the meow of a kitty are all new and wonderful. I’m asking God to give me the eyes of a child to be able to appreciate the wonders of His world.

To be the greatest is to be a receiver–to appreciate the gifts of God. To be the greatest is to be humble and see God’s wonders with fresh eyes.

Question: Can you think of any other childlike qualities that God would want us to have?