Monk Envy

This morning I returned from my volunteer hour at PJ’s preschool (which is a hilarious exercise) and spent a few minutes reading a book that someone (I’m assuming Dave) placed on the kitchen counter. Clay in the Potter’s Hand  by Dorothy Sun is the story of a Chinese follower of Christ (Dorothy) who lived through great persecution during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (I highly recommend it, along with Randy Alcorn’s book Safely Home, another book about the persecuted church). The honk of PJ’s bus interrupted my reading, and I was into my role of mom. I fixed lunch, read him a book (we’re on a Curious George kick right now), and began preparing for my in-laws to stay with us tonight. As PJ and I put fresh sheets on our bed, I sensed a grumpiness in my soul. On the surface I was annoyed at both PJ and Chai, the dog, for managing to be exactly where I next needed to step, but I knew that wasn’t the real problem.

Then I heard the little voice whispering in my ear. “What do you do that is worth all that much? What do YOU do for God’s glory?”

Ah, monk envy!

It’s what I call my strange tendency to assume that going through persecution, discomfort, poverty, etc. makes me dearer to God, to assume that He loves persecuted believers or those doing “great” things more than He loves me. So if I am persecuted or in distress… If I choose to go without or take on something I know will be difficult, then…

It’s a kind of reverse prosperity gospel–and every bit as deadly. Because what I’m REALLY doing is doubting God’s wisdom and plan–and thinking some pretty lofty thoughts about myself (although they seem at first to be self-abasing).

Upon realizing that my funk was actually monk envy, I was at first disappointed. I thought I was “past” this. I thought I had some bits of this theology worked out in my life. I thought I knew God and His Word better than to slip back into this thought pattern.

Just as I was tempted to try to correct my thinking, to try and

oh, the joy in taking time to be silly!

crawl out of the quicksand I’d stepped in without even knowing I was, a line from the hymn playing on the CD player suddenly sounded out clear. “He to rescue me from danger…”

THIS is danger, I realized. Both the quicksand of monk envy and the idea that I can pull myself out.

“Rescue needed!” I prayed.

He did.

And though I didn’t have it all figured out, couldn’t write even a blog post on why some believers undergo persecution and others don’t, why some go through this particular trial, and others that one…

…I was able to rest.

In a God who knows perfectly how my itty-bitty part fits into the BIG picture.

Who knows how everyone’s parts fit.

Whose love for me is not based at ALL on what I do or do not do.

I was able to trust.

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