Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Receiving and Perceiving

Adapted from "Beggar's Banquet" by Donald Macleod

“How we respond to difficulties will determine whether we are a winner or a whiner. One of Satan’s first temptations when our life appears to be on hold like Joseph is to tempt us to live by feelings instead of faith.”
~ Michael Yousse


I didn't sleep well again last night.

They tell me that it's normal to start having more insomnia at mid-life.  So maybe I've got a "new normal" to adjust to.

How well will I do that?

If you've hung around this blog long enough, you know that I have a cynical side to my nature.  It's not something I'm proud to admit, but it's definitely there.  One of the ways I tend to show it is by rejecting hope.  Another way is by rejecting happiness.

Sin makes us into such fools, doesn't it?

I am quick to despise whining and resentfulness and ingratitude in others, but tend to cling to those attributes in myself.  Why?

Because true happiness requires humility, at least when life hurts.  So the opposite feelings, resentfulness and ingratitude, spring from pride.  And pride magnifies me in my own eyes while denigrating others.

Picture it this way.  If I make a run-of-the-mill tuna casserole and bring it as a surprise to a beggar on the street, and serve it to him on my own worn and faded dishes, he's likely to be overwhelmed with gratitude and very happy (even if he's not overly fond of tuna).  If I do the same thing for a king, he's going to wonder who in the world I am, who I think I am, what gives me the right to approach him, whether or not I've poisoned the food, and how I could possibly think he in all his majesty would want my casserole on my less-than-royal dishes.

We receive as we perceive.  We are grateful in accordance with what we feel we deserve, compared to what was actually given.

When I have a whiny, resentful attitude toward the hardships in my life, I am telling God that I deserve better.  I am prideful.  I am the personification of Royalty Insulted.

When I gratefully receive what He gives, even when it doesn't look appealing, I am acknowledging to Him that I am a beggar, deserving no royal treatment whatsoever.  And that hurts.

Part of me screams, "I am not a doormat!  If I receive this gratefully, I'll never receive anything better than this!  If I let Him know how displeased I am, maybe He'll do better next time!"


Not only am I prideful, but I'm insulting to Almighty God.  I'm saying I know better than He does what I deserve, and that His gifts are substandard!

No wonder God takes grumbling and complaining and ingratitude so seriously (Deut 28:47-48, Job 40:8, Ps 106:25-26, Php 2:14-15)!

Is the Lord really a miser, giving only the bare minimum, waiting for any excuse to shirk on His generosity, and basing His giving on my willingness to be pleased?

Look at Calvary, Betsy, look at the promises of Heaven, and ask that question again.

Shame on me, oh shame on me!

Lord, please forgive my pride and my insulting attitude of ingratitude.  Thank You that You work all things (including insomnia, the challenges of special needs kids, chronic pain, etc) for my good as I receive them lovingly according to Your purposes (Rom 8:28) .  Help me to trust You that You make no mistakes, that You are generous beyond my wildest dreams, and that Your plans for me are better than I can ever imagine (1 Co 2:9).

If the converted thief on the cross can humbly receive his lot without charging God with wrong (Luke 23:41), if Job can bless the Lord through devastating loss (Job 1:21-22), if Jesus could entrust Himself to the Father in the midst of the most undeserved suffering that history has ever seen (1 Pet 2:23) , then who am I to grumble at life's hardships?

And yet, didn't I just grouse two seconds ago about my computer mouse not cooperating with me, as I'm writing this very post?  Don't I feel impatient with my son who is dawdling upstairs?

Of all the things I need to be grateful for this morning, I think God's patience, forgiveness, and continued work on my behalf (despite my thick-headedness) should be at the top of the list.

Thank you, generous Lord, from one very undeserving beggar!


Today's quote was provided by Karen at In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus, for this week's "In Other Words" writing meme.  Please drop by her site for links to more entries dealing with this quote.

The sketch is an adaptation of a photograph by Donald Macleod.  I can usually link the artwork directly to the source, but when I use Fotosketcher to adapt the photos, it somehow prevents direct linking, so I must include the credit here.


Debbie said...

Wow Betsy, such lessons we all need to learn. When we finally come to the end of ourselves, it takes humility. And then the Lord can step in and work in us and through us. For too long, I thought I had it all together. What a laugh that is! Without Him, I am lost.

So glad you joined in on this quote today. I hope you sleep better. I sometimes have that problem but mostly for me, it's when I am worrying. So my theme for 2010 is "trust and obey" and my verse is Philippians 4:6-7.

Happy New Year and thanks for visiting me and commenting on Heart Choices.


Susan said...

Hi Betsy,

So nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by today.

I'll be praying for you with your sleep issues. I've been there.

This was great!!!

Jaime Kubik said...

Loved your insight on this. Thank you for sharing the verses. We can all be more humble, yes?

Tami Boesiger said...

When I have a whiny, resentful attitude toward the hardships in my life, I am telling God that I deserve better. I am prideful. I am the personification of Royalty Insulted.

I've never thought of it this way, Betsy. You nailed me again! OUCH!

May God continue to do in us what it takes to make us humble. I know from experience how painful it can be, but it makes us ready for His real work in us.

Thanks for a thought provoking post, friend.

Ed said...

When I read the other comments my thoughts have already been articulated more eloquently than I could. Great insights on pride. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Moss said...

Ah . . . yes . . . humility. I've been reflecting upon this as well--joy and choosing it or rejecting it. Hope - that can be so elusive when we focus on ourselves.

Thanks for sharing this.

Esthermay said...

Tuesday is a bad day for IOW for me -- I just can't find the time on Monday's to get serious about writing things that are serious! pfff! ya'know -- homeschool just sucks my Monday through its grasp...and *poof* it's gone. So here I am nearly a week later catching up on last week's quote....

This is EXCELLENT! Such a lesson here for everyone -- at any level of spiritual growth. It's all about putting GOD on that royal throne -- no one else.

Scripturally speaking, humility is caused by the awareness of our own sinfulness, our unworthiness or our limitations. OR the awareness of GOD's holiness & justice compared to our lowliness of mind and spirit. It doesn't matter who we think we are. Humility is what God requires of us because only humble people have the right frame of mind for putting to use the gifts that he gives. His Kingdom can only advance when humble people are using His gifts.
...only a humble and homeless beggar would accept the magical gift of tuna on a plastic plate -- or whatever the gift is!

Serving a God that is greater than us requires us to be the beggar!

I like this post very much...

Anonymous said...

Hi Betsy,
I found you via my Husbands blog (goodnewsfortoronto).
I can really relate to the things you said in this post...thank you for sharing.


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