The Hiding Place has definitely challenged and inspired me these past two weeks! On the morning when my selfishness was so evident, and in such stark contrast to the selflessness of Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom (see post "Mirrored Reflection"), what convicted me the most is that humility will not simply "rub off" on me because of observing it in others. It is one thing for me to read about someone else's humility, and to tape up Philippians 2:3-8 beside our dining room table to remind me to be humble every time we eat. It is clearly another thing for humility to be "lived out" in my life. How does that inner change take place after I recognize what a selfish person I am?
One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:2. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I love the word transform! Its what only God can do. We can choose to let ourselves be conformed to the pattern of the world, or we can make choices that put us in the position of receiving God's transformation. Those disciplines like Bible study, meditation, memorization, prayer, reflection... help us to abide in His presence and give Him the invitation to renew our minds and transform us into His image.
Our bearing fruit (like the fruit of humility) is dependent upon our abiding in Him and staying connected to the Vine (John 15). Apart from him we can do nothing (of any value). And His pruning is for our own good, so that we can become even more fruitful. I feel like I have been going through a pruning process recently! My selfishness has been exposed, and I have become more and more aware of how dependent I am on God alone to change me. I can't just say, "I'm going to put others' needs above my own today" and undergo an instant heart change!
Following Charly's example of using the dictionary to help gain insight into words, I just looked up the word "inspire." I found that I can be inspired by a book, in the sense of being motivated or influenced by it. But it is God alone who can truly inspire, by breathing His life into me through His Spirit (which provides the ability to change).
It is good for me to read through books twice, because I tend to read quickly, and I am driven by the feeling of completion. So I sometimes miss important ideas the first time around. If I find a book to be worthwhile, I usually read it again, and take notes on it. The first time I read The Hiding Place, I missed the significance of the lesson from 2 Corinthinans 12. Corrie learned that her real sin wasn't that she was trying to get to the middle of the roll call formation to stay warmer, it was the sin of thinking that she had anything to offer the women she was ministering to, apart from Christ. (see "A Deeper Love").
This makes me think of a quote from Mother Teresa (that is also taped beside our dining room table).
"We all have our shortcomings, but the marvelous thing is that God uses us for His work, even with our weaknesses. God writes through us, and however imperfect pencils we may be, He writes beautifully."
I am thankful for the reminder that my weaknesses are not a reason for me to be discouraged that I'm not a "better person." My weaknesses drive me to our Perfect God, the Only One Who Can Transform, and enable me to recognize that I come to Him with empty hands, lifted high, asking Him to do what needs to be done in me, so that I can know Him and love Him more and allow Him to love others through me.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21