Love “levels” the high when there is need for lower

by Craig on July 13, 2011

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Paul, you wrote this after your pride was “leveled”.

I can see you penning the words, maybe by candlelight.

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I can see you.
after writing them,
as you drop your stylus,
then your head,
and place your thumb in the hollow of your temple,
and your three longest fingers on your forehead,
and rub in circles,
like you’re tunneling toward a migraine inside…

and as you stop the rubbing,
and let your fingers slide down to your nose,
you nod your head,
and crack a smile,
and look up to heaven,

and keeping the smile,
you close your eyes,
and shake your head side to side,
remembering…
and maybe let out a little laugh…
just a little one,
with lips tight,
just a puff of air through the nose,
as you recall when you were not so humble,
when you were not love.

You were going to be the famous, rich, influential, powerful, Pharisee of Pharisees….

but then…

the road to Damascus…

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and Jesus.

And he will not use you in the state of pride,
the state in which you are citizen one.

So he “levels” you.

Gone is your status.
Gone is your wealth.
Gone are your connections.
Gone is your blueprint.

You are now one of the very stepping stones that you had planned on using to climb your way to the top of 1st century Judaism. You had it all figured out, but you didn’t figure on Him. Did you?

And he “leveled” you.

He “flattened” you.

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And I get it Paul.

I had it all too.

The charisma, the education, the faith, the energy, the ability…
and he wouldn’t use me either because of my pride.

But I wanted to be used…and so he leveled me too.

I’m sorry it hurt you so badly Paul. Because, by experience, I know it had to sear you to your core. But look how usable you became because God “leveled” you.

And Lord?

I get it. It’s best for me to be like the Messiah:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped at, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross. (PHP 2:6-8)

You were level.
You didn’t need any leveling.

And Lord?

I have hated – really despised the process of being leveled.
But because of it,
because of being humbled by circumstance,
and decisions,
and misfortune,

and the last dagger…

the inability to sleep, which today has the total upper hand, as my mind is squishing around in a murky swamp.

You know I’ve been up all night, sleepless, and writing this Lord.

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You’ve been witness, as I’ve searched for these words,
snatching them from the air syllable by syllable,
because my mind was “leveled” by lack of sleep,
by the scant hours of sleep it has been running on this week.

This mind, once so quick – too quick.
This mind that once “knew it all”,
but really didn’t even know all the right questions.

Ann Voskamp has said it’s difficult to write of humility.
I think that’s because she embodies humility,
and humility finds it difficult to write autobiography.

But for someone who has been “leveled” it’s easy.
It’s just writing of what’s left when all the pride is torn away.

It’s so easy in fact that these words will have to bleed into next week…

next Wednesday, when I will join with Ann Voskamp to consider humility…

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Cora July 13, 2011 at 10:56 am

Writing about what’s left. . . . Oh, Craig! That struck me so deeply today. I have really believed that there was nothing left at all, and in some ways, that was true, because He can use nothing if pride is in the mix. Pride comes in wrappings sometimes and are so disguised that I failed to see it. My own shame and embarassment and disgust of my life was such a wrapping of pride, and I just didn’t see it.

Somehow, in that pile of ashes that is left, there is redemption — even redemption of our past — as He takes the wounds, scars, memories, failures, etc., and uses them (finally!) for His glory! I’m 63 now. And I’m just getting it????? Pride I have carried and wrapped myself in since I heard the first negative voice in early grade school!!!!!

I know how hard this was for you to write and where it came from, and I thank Him so much for you and all that has come from your heart! If it helps any at all, please know that there is at least ONE who has been changed today because you did not sleep last night! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! (And I’m praying for you!)

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Craig July 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Cora, I’m not as lucky as you – I don’t have a living breathing flying example of the ugliness of pride right out my back door. Those buzzards – ugly – carrion feeders – nuisances – destructive – I want to read a post by you using that metaphor – I’ll heart that post a lot I think. This post is not what I was going to write today. This is what came pouring out of the sleepless night. So – as horrible as it makes me feel – I’m glad last night happened as it did. Thank you for praying. God bless you.

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Megan (Best of Fates) July 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

This is so very beautifully written. You and Paul both turn out pretty awesome.

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Craig July 13, 2011 at 6:49 pm

thank you Megan – it’s not hilariously funny like everything you write – but it serves a purpose (◠‿◠). And although I’m of a late bloomer – maybe there’s still a bloom yet to come. God bless you Megan.

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marlece July 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I just was reading about Paul this morning and how he had that thorn in his side yet when he asked for healing he decided if he could KNOW Jesus better then he was willing to suffer. You wrote this out so perfectly! The whole leveling to a place of humility of the Lord allowing you to stay up ALLLLLL hours of the night and to have this come out on paper, He was using you, so that you may speak to others. So, as you were being leveled we on this end were able to relate and feel like we aren’t alone in our leveling, and it makes it that much easier.

Oh, and Craig, your comment on my blog…..you crack me up, I love that you are in the bloggie world being male and all, you have a great talent and gifting and we see Jesus thru it. Thank you!

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Craig July 13, 2011 at 6:54 pm

the sleep thing – Marlece – that is, and has been for more than a decade my thorn – but it’s just a thorn – and it serves a purpose – it served one last night. I was just trying to take a nap – unsuccessfully – and I wondered where the words came from overnight – and I think I kind of know – I think they kind of didn’t come from me (⌣˛⌣). God is nice. No?

And thank you – I know I’m a little out of place – being a man and all – in this world of spectacularly amazing bloggy moms, but I heart it here. I have from the start. There is no place on the whole interwebs with more heart. I heart that! God bless you Marlece.

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Nacole@sixinthesticks July 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

hi Craig!
this made me cry (as did Ann’s today–i have been leveled, but need to be leveled over and over again. and He continues to do it, because it is what is best for me. i can be so wrapped up in myself and my own needs. i have such a covering of pride that helps me justify my fear, anxiety, stress, hurts, anger, and even meanness. i dont look out for others like i ought, because i am too worried about my own well-being. i want to be like my Savior, who made himself nothing. and i heart your verse, because the Holy Spirit had me to look up that same verse today and post to facebook (and Ann even mentions it in her post today). so i think God is really trying to tell me something today. i have been floundering, begging, wondering why, and all i need to do is to allow Him to level me. our leveling doesnt all happen the same. some of us, He allows to remain miserable with ourselves until we have spent all of our energy and have nothing left inside, and finally repent of our pride and disobedience, if He will only lift us up out of our mess. this is where i am today, my friend! thank you, thank you, thank you for writing! and btw–since you last asked me to keep writing, i have posted something–feel free to check it out. and not sure if i will be able to post today with church, but i will try and will def have something up by noon tomorrow for the late readers 😉

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Craig July 13, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Nacole – I’ll tell you this – but don’t tell anyone else – it made me cry to as I was writing it (◠‿◠). And I am so happy to see you here – and to know you are writing again!! I’m thinking that if I just hold on to the humble that I have right now there will be no more big “leveling” left to do. But I’m with you – and I’m with everybody else – imperfections everywhere that need leveling – we are both, we are all, on an imperfect quest for perfection – and perfect grace for the quest. I’ll be dropping by soon to read. God bless you Nacole, and thank you.

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Cindy July 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Just wanted to say I was here and read it all – from both places…love the roads over at deep into scripture…and the passage over there…the Lord led me “deep into” it, the building of the roads in ancient times, and how it mirrors His ways in us…

You know I ♥ you and Laska the Love Kitty…

Blessings!

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Craig July 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm

thank you Cindy, from my heart, thank you. And Laska the love Kitty – just dozing the way the sunlight right now – he has no idea how many people heart him (◠‿◠) thank you for your really kind words, you’re always kind. And blessings to you and yours too!

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lori July 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I can’t remember which minister I heard say this, but he said something about how God has to crush us before He can use us. I know I’ve had those crushing moments, too, but I’m thankful that He cares enough to help us change, to help us grow. He is good :)

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Craig July 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I think any minister that’s been at it a while has probably said something like that. When the thought first occurred to me, I thought I had invented it. Pride is so sneaky isn’t it?! The expression has probably been around for a thousands of years. And Amen – a big AMEN –He is good! God bless you Lori. And thank you.

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A. July 14, 2011 at 12:59 am

sometimes when we think we have been crushed…we find ourselves being crushed again, and wonder how we missed some spots. I am thnking that this pride-crushing thing possibly comes in phases and stages sometimes.

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Debbie July 16, 2011 at 2:45 am

I like how you think, A. I tried a polymer clay class with my daughter for awhile. We had to put the clay through a pasta machine. It would flatten it, then you’d fold in and run it through again and again and again. And then some more. We were told to do this so that when we baked what we made out of clay, it would be strong. Maybe that is us, with the crushing and leveling, so that we can be strong and not break readily in Him.

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Craig July 16, 2011 at 9:27 am

Ooooooooooooohhhhh pretty metaphor!!!!!!!!!

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Blue Cotton Memory July 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Sometimes, people are born into circumstances that level them from the first moment they draw air – and it is humbling then to realize that God loves us so much, He raises us to embrace us in that love. It took me a long time, 35 years – to realize how much God loved me – to value myself as God valued me! There’s a cute children’s book called “Tops and Bottoms” – roots growing on top of the ground – roots underneath the ground. Leveling can come from two different directions! Either way – it is painful – but our redemption is beautiful!

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Craig July 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

EEEEEEEK – leveling from two directions –nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

But so true – and if I want to be what God wants me to be – I need to be about the pruning, and leveling, the more I do the better, the less he has to do – I think that’s the better too. Such brilliant comments today Maryleigh!!!! I heart being taught! I didn’t used to heart being taught – blogging has been good for me – as has been the leveling – although I heart the blogging – not so much the leveling. God bless you and keep you!

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Michelle July 16, 2011 at 12:42 am

“It’s just writing of what’s left when all the pride is torn away.”

That’s really what our life in Christ is, isn’t it. What’s left when all the pride is torn away.

(Sorry I’m so late, I’ve been away, catching up now. :) )

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Craig July 16, 2011 at 9:26 am

Just a simple response to this one Michelle (since my last response was a novel) – just Amen – yup – Amen. God bless.

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