Thursday, October 4, 2012

Focusing on Me

The question “Is my turn coming?” in my last post, has been bothering me. It’s like saying: God owes me something and He’s holding out on me. Other people have something that I don’t have and I want my turn. I am entitled to what should be mine. I’ve been waiting and waiting and don’t know when or if what I’m hoping for is going to come. I’m trying to have patience. To persevere. And to learn those lessons that God has for me in this season. But it’s hard. When the focus is on me.

I love this different perspective on waiting that a friend sent to me from Romans 8 in The Message:
"...waiting does not diminish us any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.  We are enlarged in the waiting.  We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."

And I am challenged by what I read today in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (following are excerpts from Chapter 21). Lewis was writing from the perspective of a devil to his demon nephew about how to successfully influence a young man to succumb to various temptations and thus turn away from the “Enemy” (God) which would result in his eternity in Hell with “Our Father” (Satan).

“Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him...
They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property that he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion to which he allows his religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright...

The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so...It is as if a royal child whom his father has placed, for love’s sake, in titular command of some great province, under the real rule of wise counselors, should come to fancy he really owns the cities, the forests, and the corn, in the same way as he owns the bricks on the nursery floor...

We produce this sense of ownership not only by pride but by confusion. We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun—the finely graded differences that run from ‘my boots’ through ‘my dog’, ‘my servant’, ‘my wife’, ‘my father’, ‘my master’, and ‘my country’, to ‘my God’. They can be taught to reduce all those senses to that of ‘my boots’, the ‘my’ of ownership. Even in the nursery a child can be taught to mean by ‘my teddy bear’ not the old imagined recipient of affection to whom it stands in a special relation (for that is what the Enemy will teach them to mean if we’re not careful) but ‘the bear I can tear to pieces if I like’. And at the other end of the scale, we have taught men to say ‘my God’ in a sense not really very different from ‘my boots’, meaning ‘the God on whom I have a claim for my distinguished services and whom I exploit from the pulpit—the God I have a corner in’.

And all the time the joke is that the word ‘Mine’ in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father or the Enemy will say ‘Mine’ of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong—certainly not to them, whatever happens. At present the Enemy says ‘Mine’ of everything on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it: Our Father hopes in the end to say ‘Mine’ of all things on the more realistic and dynamic ground of conquest.”

God, please help me to see that nothing is really mine. Help me to focus not on myself but on you and all that you have given me to be thankful for. You do not owe me anything. And you have given me all that I need.

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