Prayer of Humility and Selflessness

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In 2011, I attended the very first Christian Communicator’s Conference (CCC).  This conference assists Christian women in developing and expanding their speaking ministries.  The conference propelled my life of faith into new levels of discovery as I sat at the feet of founders, Vonda Skelton and Carolyn Knefely. As an added bonus, I met several like-minded women with the same goal:  enhance our speaking careers to serve God.

In 2013 and 2014, I attended Advanced Conferences offered by Christian Communicators.  Over the years, I’ve forged friendships and come to admire so many of these women.  Their personal stories of faith amaze and inspire me. Even though I haven’t met all of them, many of them have touched my life in ways I never anticipated.

The most recent conference ended just a few weeks ago. This year, Vonda and Carolyn passed the baton to three new women to run the organization.  I’m excited to see what’s in store for this community of women.

The Prayer

As I’ve heard reports from the latest group of alumni, I’ve been reminded of the prayer Vonda and Carolyn use to send the participants back into the world. This prayer moves me each time I hear it. Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), it perfectly expresses a servant of Christ’s humility and selflessness.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

The Appeal

Speakers and writers start serving others because they feel compelled to share and to help. It takes a certain level of ego to believe you have something to say, so they must fight the urge to be prideful about their service. It’s easy to forget why they started serving and to focus more on self rather than the ones served.

This prayer refocuses me.

I’ve highlighted in bold the parts that are hardest for me. (You have no idea how hard it is to admit this!)

Which parts of the prayer are hardest for you?

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A Piece of My Salvation Puzzle

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© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

I tell my story because I have to.  I feel the need to reach out to others and provide some hope where it might be lost.

Even though I share this journey for any one in the world to see, my story has not been an easy one to tell.  Some posts led me down agonizing hallways of memory.  God led me through those dark days, and, in writing these posts, I’ve discovered more ways He guided me than I ever realized before.

Through it all, God was with me.

My awareness of this didn’t happen overnight.  It happened over many years, one step at a time.

My first awakening to the truth came during a singles retreat.  Our speaker taught from Ecclesiastes.  I listened to this man’s teaching unaware of what was to come.  I wish I could tell you the verses that hit me in the gut, the passage that changed my world, but I can’t.

One moment, I was fine, a person in the crowd, the next, an overwhelming awareness engulfed me. God could love me in spite of the stains on my life.  I was worthy of His love and forgiveness.

I can point to many reasons why I didn’t understand this before.  The first, and most obvious, stems from those who first taught me salvation.  They preached living right.  They told me God was not a respecter of persons (whatever that means).  In the next breath, they told me no one can be perfect, but we have to try to be, but we will never succeed.  They described to me a vengeful God.  One who wanted our perfection and punished us if we didn’t make the grade.  Their understanding of salvation missed the boat.  They saw Him sitting in judgment of our failures.

Is there any wonder that I didn’t think my life worthwhile?  How could I ever measure up?

Yes, we should strive to live as Christ. No, we will never succeed.  That’s the point.  They missed it.

When this point hit me, I ran out of the session.  It didn’t take long for the singles minister to follow me. I’ll never forget how he sat down on the curb beside me, a look of concern on his face.  I tried to tell him, through my tears, what I felt.  He nodded, then first told me he had been keeping a close eye on two other single moms in the crowd, aware of the emotional trauma they had experienced.  He never thought to watch me.  He never suspected how I felt.  I had become so good at being present without grace that no one knew my struggle.  (This is one reason my story amazed so many people when I started sharing it.)

We talked for a while and then again later.  But I had the most important piece of the puzzle: I could be blameless and whole before God.  I would screw up, but I could have the salvation I wanted.  I could have grace.  I just needed to seek to do His will and accept His grace when I fell.

Alleluia!

 

A Lesson From World War I: Christmas in July

lovecloudSometime ago, a dear friend and former pastor of mine, Carl Lancaster, added a “musings” addendum to our church’s prayer list.  He’s been emailing the prayer list to our members for many years now, and I enjoy the times he adds his own thoughts after the prayer requests.  Although this muse from him was based on the upcoming Christmas season, what he says is apropos to us today.  I have slightly edited it to make it current, but otherwise it appears as Carl wrote it.

A little over 100 years ago, Christmas of 1914, World War I had been underway for 5 months.  The Germans were fighting the British, the Belgians and the French.  They were fighting in trenches that were not that far apart.  It had rained a lot so there was mud everywhere. It turned bitterly cold where they were fighting in Belgium and France. In all the mud and the cold it was a miserable existence for everybody.

On Christmas Eve the Germans began singing, “Stille Nacht’ (Silent Night).  The allies applauded noisily and yelled, “more!, more!”  They then took turns singing Christmas Carols and the allies moved on to sing the German anthem and the Germans sang the British anthem.  After they had peeped out of their trenches without getting shot at they began meeting each other on the land between the trenches.  They traded food, tobacco, buttons from their uniforms and other souvenirs.  They discussed the best way to deal with the body lice and the rats and showed each other pictures of their families.  In many areas no shots were fired that night, Christmas day or the day after.  When the commanders heard about this they were irate and forbade any further fraternization with threats of court martial if anyone disobeyed.  Yet it was reported that in some areas soldiers continued to shoot over the heads of the opposing army as late as February!  They had come to recognize their common humanity and consequently had no desire to kill each other!

I have lived through World War II, the Cuban Crisis, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, two Iraq Wars and the Afghanistan War.  However, throughout my life at no other time have I ever heard so much hatred expressed against others even including against others within our own country.  At no time, have I ever know of so many people in so many parts of the world being so intent on destroying, in the most brutal way possible, their fellow human beings!
We remember and celebrate the Prince of Peace in our lives, so isn’t it time for us to declare a truce, a cease fire and to promote peace and goodwill rather than enmity and hate?  It seems pretty evident from the Bible that God does not want those who wear the name of his son to promote strife, enmity and hatred!  Rather He wants love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control practiced and promoted!
I challenge you to resolve to do what you can to avoid anything that would promote enmity or hate toward any person or any segment of
humanity. I further challenge you to resolve not to give audience to, encourage or listen to anyone who promotes enmity or hatred toward anyone, whether it is toward a political party, a race, a nationality or a religion. God doesn’t expect us or want us to agree with everybody.  Rather he wants us, not by enmity and hatred, but by our love and goodwill to change them for the better even including our enemies!  Our very nature gives us the same message. There is no inner peace or joy for the person whose heart is filled with hatred!
NOTE: I, myself, take responsibility for all these remarks.  No one asked me to write them.  I am not writing them to point a finger at anyone.  I was moved when I read again the story of that cease-fire at Christmas 1914!  I am concerned with all the hatred that being voiced in our own country.  If Christian people don’t do anything to promote love and goodwill, then who will????
Carl Lancaster is one of the wisest men I know. I’ve always respected him, and, for that reason, over twenty years ago, Bruce and I asked him to officiate our marriage. I’ve never know a man who understands people as well as he does.