Friday, June 5, 2015

Cross Roads: A Lower Case “t” for Me

            My housed buzzed with the noise of busy children at play. The washer and dryer humming in harmony provided me with peace if not quiet.

            “Ahh, finally time to be creative!”

             I seized the opportunity to put the finishing touches on a water color painting. The smell of fresh laundry and steeping Darjeeling complimented my tranquil endeavor.

            My solitude was soon dashed by the ringing phone. A familiar voice greeted me when I answered. It was the leader of the Bible study I had begun to attend two weeks earlier.

            “Hi Teri, this is Julie, from Bible Study. I’ve been praying about something and really felt I needed to talk to you.”

             The hesitancy in her voice clued me into the nature of her call. I braced myself as she continued, “I can tell by your comments during discussion time that you have a good understanding of the Bible, but in our group we have a number of newer believers. Your frequent comments are a bit intimidating to them and I’d like them to be able to share and ask question without feeling embarrassed. You’re tending to dominate the discussion. I want you to come but I need you to be considerate of the other women. Do you understand?”

            I absolutely did! She brought me to a cross road. Would I defend self or relent? Conviction demanded I relent. I had definitely been thinking more highly of myself than I ought.

            My inflated ego deceived me into thinking I knew more about the Bible than Julie. As a result, I felt compelled to play Holy Spirit rather than trusting her as God’s choice to lead the group. Truth be told, I was being an obnoxious know it all.

            Grace deflated my pride. “Oh Julie, you are right. I am so sorry that my pride has hindered your leadership. Will you please forgive me?”

            She sighed with relief. “Of course I forgive you, Teri. Thank you so much for understanding.”

            As I hung up the phone I fell to my knees confessing my folly. “Lord, forgive my arrogance. Thank you for using Julie to reprove me.”

            Returning to my desk I reached for sip of comfort. The tea was cold. My heart longed for something more satisfying than tea. I pushed the painting aside and picked up a pen. That’s when I had this epiphany. Have you ever noticed what letter is smack dab in the middle of pride? Yup it’s “i”. We spell pride with a little “i” but truth be told a capital better reflects the meaning. After all that’s what pride is, it’s I, I, I.

            As I opened my Bible, God’s Spirit directed me to Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me:” I continued doodling.

            I remembered the way John the Baptist put it when his disciples were jealous that John’s popularity was waning and Christ was getting all the glory, “I must decrease and He must increase.” 

            Kingdom living is counter culture and counter intuitive. It calls me to cross roads where I must choose which way I’ll go; my way or His, live selfishly or die to self. Do I really trust this King of Kings or will I take the throne? Do I want the lost to find Teri or Jesus? I need to get smaller so I don’t block their view.

            I picked up my painting added a few last strokes and started to swash my signature with its usual giant “T” but before the brush touched the paper I stopped; another cross road. God made me with these talents and He could just as easily take them away. “God,” I asked, “How can I decrease and You increase?”

            His answer came in a flash. In my heart I heard, “Try a lower case t.” There it was the cross, His cross. The cross I needed to take up. 

The lower case “t” in my signature serves as a small visual reminder to me that I must die daily if Christ is to live in me. 

I scribbled again.

I am in Christ and crucified with Him. Yup the “I” was bowing down where it belongs, at the cross.

             That was twenty some years ago. Putting the cross of Christ first in my signature is easy. Dying to self daily is not. The old man thrives on thievery; robbing God of His glory. The contradiction of telling you how I need to pursue humility while I’m promoting my writing haunts me. To be honest, I’m afraid of the old Teri. Yet, God has made me His steward and enlisted me to disciple others. My King calls me to this task of word crafting. So I must fear God more than my pride and trust Him to use the Julies in His kingdom to keep me in on the cross road.

            Abba, Father, thank You for honest sisters that teach us humility. Please, deliver us from our pride, lay us low and raise us up to new life, Christ’s life, lived to love and serve others for Your glory. Amen

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