The contrast was so striking it was profound, and the impression both experiences left on me lingered for days. The first was that of a news story—opposing sides had lashed out at one another, not in defense of truth but rather the total defeat of their fellow man. At the root of it all was pride, the desire to promote self—to be on top and bask in glory.
The second was that of a conversation with one of the dearest women I have ever known. As I listened to her share her heart, I thought of her story. Her life has presented many obstacles. At an early age she knew what is was to say goodbye. She has known fear and pain and weakness. Yet, she smiled as she spoke. Her eyes twinkled, and she laughed heartily—even as she gave voice to very real sorrow. Many in her place would be tempted to become angry and bitter. Why had God chosen this for her? Surely she could be more useful else where—her talents and gifts could benefit so many…her time could be spent in such better ways.
Remarkably, this has never been her response. Long ago she learned the lesson of humility. Her response has never been Why? but rather Why not? She seems to understand something we all tend to forget. God is God, and we are not. We are the creature—utterly, completely, unconditionally dependent upon Him.
Even in ministry, in service to our Lord, the danger of pride looms ever present in our hearts. Our motives are sullied all too often by our desire for glory—dictating to God how and when and where we will serve Him. And when He asks of us something we did not expect—when He requires a valley we did not see—we feel cheated, abandoned, misled.
We forget what Andrew Murray calls, “The Glory of the Creature.”
“The creature looks back to the origin and first beginning of existence, and acknowledges that it owes everything to God. In addition to this, the creature must accept that its main concern, its best asset, its only happiness, now and through all eternity, is to present itself an empty vessel in which God can dwell and demonstrate His power and goodness.”
An empty vessel…a vessel does not decree how it will and will not be used. It does not declare where it will be placed. It simply remains open and available. That is what it was created for. The cry of our hearts must be for this kind of humility—humility that understands we are the creature, that we have nothing and can do nothing on our own. “…yielding to God His rightful place…” May we be nothing, that God might be all.
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8