Being Lowly

“The lowly He sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” Job 5:11
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…”Ezekiel 13:16a

My conversion to Christianity was one of those “dramatic” stories that bring a lot of tears in youth group. Broken home, emotional issues, shame and self-hatred – these were the ashes I brought to the Lord, with little hope He could transform them into something beautiful.

Over the years I found great comfort in verses like those above. My messed-upness became the avenue by which God would draw near to me. He has a soft spot for the cast-offs of the world, and I was certainly among them. I once saw my life as a beautiful vase with a candle inside that you couldn’t really see. Someone came along and shattered the vase into a million tiny shards of colored glass. When the vase was put back together, it was still beautiful but there were cracks everywhere. The candle was dropped back inside and suddenly little rays of light came pouring out of every line in the vase. Images like this assured me that God was redeeming all my broken pieces.

Part of the story of life in God is that He restores what is broken and stolen by the world, the devil, and even our own sin. It’s a terrible and beautiful part of the story, God making all things new through the brokenness of Jesus. I believe in the power and truth of this story with everything in me. And I believe that my life reflects some of that power and truth. Many wounds have been healed. Many destructive cycles have been broken. Many good things have been brought to the surface.

In recent months I have found myself feeling truly content, peaceful even. I am acutely aware of all the blessings in my life, and for the first time in a very long time I feel safe. So maybe it’s from boredom, or habit, or masochism that this thought has been nibbling at the edges of my mind: have I become too comfortable? At what point does one cross over from being the lowly and brokenhearted to the proud and haughty?

When Jesus teaches a crowd from a hill, He knows how to consider His audience. He’s addressing peasants and farmers and outcasts. He’s addressing soldiers and accountants and dignitaries. The fringe and the core are there to hear Him speak. And He begins by telling them who is truly blessed: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the persecuted, the meek. People who weren’t seen as blessed, who certainly wouldn’t have considered themselves blessed.

Throughout His teaching ministry, Jesus’ warnings were to the comfortable, the wealthy, the influential, the privileged. He warned them to humble themselves, to become poor in spirit. He tells His followers to be like small children in their approach to Him. He Himself is described as lowly.

So there’s this weird seeming conflict. On one hand God takes our broken places and makes them whole, drawing near to those who suffer. One the other hand, the result is that we become whole and are relieved from our suffering. So then we are to make ourselves lowly. As a person with wicked self-abuse abilities, I struggle with how to do this in a healthy and constructive way.

Thoughts? What does it mean to you to “become” lowly?

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1 Comment

  1. Vicky said,

    February 25, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I think part of becoming lowly is to never forget how you have been redeemed. To keep telling the story and seek out those who need to hear it may keep you from becoming prideful…I guess that may sound like a cliche….good thoughts, friend.


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