January 25, 2012

Did You Hear That?

There’s this place of reverence within me. I feel it instinctively, as if born to lean toward it. Toward His ways, His voice. And sometimes I do. Other times I am too full of pride. Too many hurts rattle in my mind. I don’t hear a thing the Lord says. Much like when I tip-toed on pins and needles around our accountants during an annual audit.

His lips moved, but words didn’t compute. I heard every other syllable but didn’t listen. I couldn’t let go of deferred revenues, accruals, and doubts that I’d chopped my work’s finances to bits. He said something worthy of a hearty laugh, but I couldn’t tell you what. I remedied with a polite smile.

But no. He’s trained to catch what’s missing; he’s an accountant after all. The spotlight glared hotly. “You don’t know what I said, do you?”

“Not a clue,” my red hot cheeks tattled on me. I’m such a chump. Graciously he repeated and assured me all was well with the audit. I let go of the spreadsheets and receipts cramming out my thoughts, and listened.

Another inquisitive gentleman seeks to know if I’m listening to Him. Infinitely more vital are His voice and words. They’re the melodies to which life’s dance is set. The kindling that feeds our marrow’s fire. Sweet honey to our soul’s hive.

We miss a beat when we’re not fully engaged listening. Grow cold. Sour.

Jesus was “all ear” to the Father. This is true prayer: being all ear for God. ~Henri Nouwen

Half-listening ears beget half-lived lives. Lives that are meant to shine the light of Christ. And give the same grace we receive from the cross.

If only I had been all ears the dinner I pushed my lima beans aside. I might have served grace. If only I had turned down the voice of pride, and tuned in to the voice of humility.

At times I wonder what damage I might have done. And I pray. Oh so humbly do I pray for the Lord to mend any wounds I caused or any marring of His Name I did.

And I know, there is grace for her, for me, for you. For the taking.

Accepting this lavish grace begins with knowing we need it. Recognizing that spot of pride that deafens us to His voice of humility. Then listening, and responding, to the truth. That when we go low, He lifts us high. And yes, that this wild grace is ours to wash in each and every time we move the lima beans aside.

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  1. First, i need to tell you, after reading your post i realized you were talking about me and to me…Blessed i saw the link from Facebook then to Proverbs 31 site and then your post here and came here to read it and now we are both blessed :O) on the Proverbs 31 in your post “you ask this…Who do I struggle to be humble toward? What is one thing I can do to “tuck my guns away” and show them kindness?”
    I will be honest, my husband, if you want the entire story ask me for my email and where to send it …. i bite my tongue daily and pray all the time…i do try to do things for him all the time but, not enough…i am scared of him sometimes…not in an evil way or harmful way….it is hard to explain here…but i do try to give him space…like i said not here….Praying i receive this book…and blessed you have given me a chance to….i as are many are low income…Thank you ad Gods Peace :O)
    (by the way you might want to make your fonts bigger and/or darker)….
    it was very hard to read …just a suggestion :O)

  2. You did an absolute wonderful job at writing that devotional for this morning. I have been there and gotten the t-shirt! God gives back ten- fold when we submit to Him and learn to show grace to others no matter whether they deserve it! I have been in a season of teaching my daughters this even with each other. Thanks so much for your words! Beautiful blog!

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  3. Hi, thankyou for you amazing words of encouragement today. I have a co worker that is like walking on pins and needles with. I never know what kind of mood is next. My initial reaction is ignore and avoid her before she has the chance to hurt me anymore. I have tried the nice route and has gotten me no where. But your words this morning reminded me that God wants me to treat her with respect in spite of how she treats me. Thankyou for your words and with Gods strength He can help me be who He wants me to be and love her with the love God has for her.

  4. Melissa M. says:

    I loved this devotional. I can see it so clearly. Grace has showed up in the relationship with my husband as well. He had been away for months, it was winter, and I was doing the single parent thing with 2 kids and 2 dogs. In the cold, dark days of winter, the dogs had to be walked nightly, and I was eager to hand over the responsibility to my husband on his return. The first couple of nights, however, he claimed to be too tired, and I found myself battling anger and resentment that he was allowing me to go out into the cold, dark night to walk the dogs. Compassionately, I was reminded of the long trip he had taken to get home, the weariness of the work he had been doing, and a special reminder that God is with me always and keeps me safe. I gave my husband a hug, was patient while he rested and recovered to a more balanced state. After a few days, he then took on the job himself. I am so glad I didn’t blow up at him in anger, therefore, putting our relationship in a more tense place upon our time of reunion. How many times has God’s grace allowed us to recover from a time of weakness? I am grateful that I was able to listen and respond with love instead of anger towards my best friend.

  5. Christine says:

    Thank you for the lovely devotion this morning – I loved your words!

    I struggle with pride CONSTANTLY, and it took me entirely too long to realize that when I walk humbly with the Lord – life is so much easier. From submitting to my husband (even when I think I’m right) to slowing my car to let someone cut in (even if they are driving like a bully). As hard as it is to swallow my pride and surrender in humility, I am amazed at how peaceful I feel after those acts of obedience. I’m still working on it – it is most definitely a process that takes much practice and a whole lot of grace!

  6. thanks for sharing the words today. very thoughtful.

  7. I always get excited when I see your posts, your articles, anything you put to words. They seem to be bathed in a transparency that resonates with me. One that encourages me to trust more, lean more, to really be who God made me to be. And you do it in a way that is inspiring.

    I remember when God wanted me to give grace and I was resisting. After all, didn’t He see and hear what I did, I mean was He serious. First, God dealt with me with my responses to my husband, my button-pusher. Then God in closer and didn’t want me to roll my eyes, even when it was hidden. And, if you can believe it, then God started dealing with my thoughts. The one area I had to blast him unnoticed, or so I thought.

    Grace for me, judgement for you. Seems fair at the time. Till we hear God whisper. “I gave you grace.”

    Just wanted you to know I appreciate you.

  8. Precious grace…waiting to be accepted.

  9. Wow. I so needed this reminder. I struggle with this so much. Thanks for you transparency and honesty. It’s beautiful.

  10. Thanks for being so honest.

  11. I had a strained relationship with my mother in law for years. She really said and did some things that were downright nasty to me through the years and although I knew I needed to love her anyway, I really didn’t. When my husband and I sold our house in a matter of 2 weeks we had nowhere to go and 4 kids. I did the unthinkable and moved in with my inlaws for what we thought would be a month or 2. This grew into 8 months and although it was not without strain at times, mainly because of others in the family who were there often, my mother in law and I grew close in a way that I never could have imagined. We finally moved forward – I think she respects me for the first time and I have forgiven her and can actually say that I love her. It was only through God’s grace that any of this could happen – I never would have dreamed that I would agree to moving in there in the first place, much less for 8 months. God gave me both the strength and the grace I needed to experience something that never would have been.

  12. Elaine Segstro says:

    Thank you for your words of encouragement this morning. Having a rebellious 19 year old is not easy and I pray each day that I will extend God’s grace to him to not hurt our relationship even more than it is – don’t sweat the small stuff. The heart issues are more crucial. Being a teacher involves leaning on Him and extending grace to those students who are troubled – who act out because of broken homes, health issues, and more. God grant me your peace and love again today!

  13. Thank you for the devotion this morning. I have struggled with pride in the area of admitting I am wrong & especially admitting it to my husband. However, when I do admit & ask for forgiveness I know that God is pleased & I feel His peace in knowing that I did the right thing. But even when I don’t do the right thing God is still gracious & He is forgiving & loving of me His daughter as I learn to be humble as He was.


  14. God is Great! i needed both this and the Proverbs 31 devotional. i need to find the book. i am having a tough winter, and all because of my pride. Pray for me, and thanks for the devotionals. They keep me going.

  15. Once again, I’ve received a sound “spiritual spanking” as I read my daily PR. 31 devotional. Once again, I felt as if I was reading my own story written by a total stranger. And, once again, I felt the Lord prompting me to examine my heart with the expressed intention of weeding out those attitudes that weigh me down and keep from being the woman He created me to be.
    I, too, have struggled with my relationship with my in-laws. There’s never been a situation where we’ve come to blows or had a heated exchange. We’ve never been snotty or mean to each other. In fact, when we’re together there’s a very sweet, yet strained and polite tolerance that sees us through whatever occasion we’re celebrating. We do this for my husband’s sake, as neither of us wish to put him through the grief of having to deal with such an ugly battle. I am glad of this, and appreciate that they hold their tongues in spite of the fact that they hold negative feelings toward me. The problem is that I’ve accepted this polite tolerance as good enough to maintain our relationship. After all, I reason with myself, if we aren’t at blows, and if we can maintain a facade of graciousness, then–all’s right with the world in “in-law land.” Right? Not according to the God of the Universe Who sacrificed His Son so that forgiveness of sin and abundant grace could prevail in my life. Not according to Jesus Who suffered not only the Cross, but tolerated the scorn and hatefulness of those who persecuted Him and didn’t politely tolerate Him but spewed bitterness and mockery at Him, even in the moments preceding His very death, the death that He offered up to allow them, His accusers, eternal life.
    These examples, and a story of Lima bean bullets have convicted me deeply that I’ve missed the mark where love and grace are concerned. I’ve been pridefully withholding these essentials from my in-laws, and I’m ashamed of my behavior. No matter their feelings toward me, I should remember that God only cares about MY actions and my obedience to His clear instruction that I am to love others, if for no other reason than that they would see HIS love in me.
    So, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go call my in-laws and invite them over for supper, where humble pie will be on the menu.

  16. My mother is the one I don’t “like.” I find it continually difficult to honor her. She is a believer but is the most self-righteous, judgemental and critical person I know. The only way to honor her is to limit my contact with her. I can’t handle her negative spirit and the unforgiveness in her heart. I have spent time trying to imagine walking in her shoes and understand why she is the person she is. I have asked God to help me see her with his eyes. I have cried for her because she wonders why we (my sister and I and our sons), don’t want to spend more time with her and my dad. (They are shut-ins now, although they are only in their mid-70’s). A lifetime of this has just worn my sister and I down. I could handle her attitude so much better if she was an unbeliever, or if this was a recent change of personality due to getting older. But the legalism my parents live under, and their blindness to what the Bible teaches about being judgemental and self-righteous is staggering at times. Many times, I have simply said “I need to go now” in order to keep my tongue, to respect their right to behave as they wish in their own home, but I have cried all the way home, wondering why the Lord continues to let them hurt others. I know I have a tendency to be critical and negative and I am working diligently to try and change that. Perhaps that is why my mother’s attitude is so unpleasant to me. I have lived under the heavy mantle of her disapproval (although I was not a bad child, and have been a believer for 30 years.) Am I wrong in feeling that the best way to honor my parents, is to be available if I’m needed, but to limit my contact with them otherwise? This devotional makes me think that there is still something more I need to be doing, but I don’t know what. I’m weary from years of trying to understand and work with her. Nonethless, this devotional was excellent and applicable for other situations in my life.

  17. Thank You for the uplifting words! I find that I’ve missed out on many moments of being humble and extendng grace because I’ve been too insecure to let my guard down, and allow someone to have the “upper hand”. I pray that God will redeem those moments and help me to better obey HIm as He leads and guides me.

  18. I enjoyed reading your devotional. It is hard to be humble at certain times and esp. with certain people. God is always there for us and with us. Only through His grace can we live. Thanks for sharing

  19. I tend to think of myself as a doormat – TOO humble! However, both the P31 email and your blog are showing me that I do take up arms against those closest to me – my husband and my son. My husband is a believer who is not walking with Christ. I resent him for that and am NOT humble or respectful to him. My son is 18 and not yet acting like a man, and I hold that against him. I am not humble or showing a gentle spirit with him. While I often feel like a doormat, I am starting to see that it may be more of a martyrdom, a pity-party for little ‘ol me. THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts on this. Now that I can better see myself, I can begin praying (begging) for God’s help to change.

  20. Thank you for the devotional. I spent a lot of time in the study Experiencing God about 3 years ago. The whole time God kept telling me to trust him. I have been through some horrible times with family since then, but I kept trusting God and I think he helped me keep my mouth shut during the worst of times. I could not have possibly have done it on my own. Because of problems within my family my whole life and not being raised in a Godly family, I have many self confidence issues that spill out into my life. I do feel like a perfect mess a lot of the time.

  21. Thank you for the encouraging words today. When dealing with my ex-husbands new wife I need to remind myself of this scripture and devo.
    Thank you again!!

  22. Thanks Sam, I really needed to hear your words today. I am greatful to the other ladies that posted on here. I’ve been feeling like I’m the only one with husband issues and pride struggles. Thank you for your honesty!
    It’s easy for me to get angry at my husband if he makes our bed or folds laundry, ect. and it’s not the way I do it. I used to redo those things to my liking, not realizing that it hurt my husband’s feelings and gave him a message that he’s not good enough. God has given me the grace to just be glad that he did those things, leave them as he did them, and not say anything to him. Knowing other women who are widows, God reminds me to be grateful that I still have my husband. I’m still a mess and have a long way to go, but am so glad that God loves me as I am and won’t give up on me.

  23. Oh boy….the mother in law is an issue with me….for some reason I feel that she takes time away from my husband and I, when thats totally not the case. I need more of that humility in my life and grace to extend to her. I understand now that she is lonely and needs the attention. I should be gracious enough to give.

  24. This was an excellent devotional & reminder of how important it is to do what is right even when we don’t want to. God has certainly been my Rock when it comes to my mother-in-law. It is hard to respect her but oh how wonderful it feels to know that I have fulfilled what God has commanded in my heart simply because He asked me to. Grace abound He continues to give me & it is my prayer for all sisters in Christ. Thank u for the reminder!

  25. Amy from Az says:

    Thank You. I’ve been struggling with a coworker who seems to be “gunning” for me. I thought I hadn’t pulled out guns by pulling away but I realize that I have. I’ve used silence & limited contact to protect myself. How do you be humble in the face of a volcano that erupts and then acts like nothing happened? How do you not take it personal and not get hurt? Please pray. The grace I do have in this is that I don’t feel angry or hateful towards her.

  26. Martha T. says:

    I really liked your devotional today! I have experienced God’s grace when He forgives for the many times I blow it and blow up at people who I am annoyed or something else with.

  27. I love you, Sam.
    I love your honesty.
    I love lima beans (my favorite vegetable).
    I love that God has grown and is growing you. You will be a lovely daughter-in-law one day. <3

    Hugs and LTS,
    (please don't enter me — I have the wonderful book!)

  28. I experience God’s grace daily since I know what I need to do but fail to do it many times over. This month I have stopped all but the necessary activity in my life in order to focus on God and His Word. Let me tell you, Satan has a way of throwing up obstacle after obstacle to impede your progress when you determine to make God a priority. I’d like to say I’ve disciplined myself to be doing what I should but it continues to be a work in progress. I have a goal, though, and I’m working toward it. Not just for myself, but for those that will see the love of Christ shine through me. With the grace of God, of course.

  29. Daily I need his grace and I relate to your post so much in dealing with certain family members. Really made me look deeper at the situation in a grace giving way. Thank you!

  30. Thank you for reminding me to be humble, to let go of my pride, and to behave in a way that is Christlike. It is a hard thing to do especially when we think the other person does not deserve to be treated with respect and love. But God loves us, no matter what. Thank you again.

  31. God’s grace . . . I am so blessed by His grace that covers my sins . . . even though I divorced an abusive husband I felt the sin in my life. God has blessed me in my new life. He has forgiven me through His grace and healed my pain through His mercy.

  32. MomOfFour says:

    Oh, it is so hard sometimes to love the unloveable, those who don’t treat us well and I admit that I fail often.

    But oh the sweetness of getting it right, doing what we know would please Him, putting our own pride aside and giving the grace we have been given. If only we could live in that sweet place. I know for me it means staying in His word, sitting at His feet and listening to His voice.

    Thanks for the post and the giveaway.

  33. Thank you for your encouragement. I’m working with someone who has wronged me, and have said hurtful, untruthful words about me. I brought and still bringing everything to God in prayer. I know that God is my vindicator. The hard part is I also know that God wants me to forgive and show mercy. With God’s help I’m able to show kindness and give help to her. That I can do only because of God’s power working in me. if it was just me, I could be ugly too. I thank God for His mercy and strength.

  34. I believe God continues to extend grace over and over to me. I’ve had oh so many moments in my 38 years of life that were full of pride, moments I put me first and wasn’t obedient in order to give God glory and as importantly honor. I am in a situation now that challenges me daily, I’m fighting day in and day out, a battle within me and God is asking me if I’ll be obedient. He’s asking me, “are you going to let me show you what I can do through this?”. I’m in the storm so to speak and I’m trying, and praying often, that I would just put someone else above my own interest, and extend grace to that person as grace has been extended to me. Sigh.

  35. Pride is a deceitful thing. No one means to be prideful, but it seems to creep in without you knowing. Someone was once bold enough to tell me I was dealing with pride issues. That offended me and then I quickly knew she was right. There are a couple of women that I struggle to be around because I just can’t forgive them for the way they hurt me. Thank you for reminding me that I am having pride issues and I need to take the seat of humility and forgive.

  36. I love this, Sam. Beautiful!

  37. Grace…what I need, not what I deserve.
    Everyday. Everyday, God sends me these little moments. today, an old dog that wouldn’t eat finally took a slice of white bread and then another. A child who hates breakfast ate it and said thank you. Grace is so amazing.

  38. I am amazed at how this is just what I need and when I need it. I continue to pray for Grace. Thank You!!!!

  39. Wow, your Proverbs 31 devotional was directed right at me. My husband and I were in a face-off over his laundry on the bathroom floor. I was letting pride and being in the right get in the way of honor and respect. When I got home yesterday I picked up that dirty laundry and washed it, and told him I didn’t want a little laundry to get between us. I spoke non-defensively about why his dirty laundry bothered me, and he graciously considered it. Much better than having all-out war. Thank you.

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