The work set before me
—Before all of us, I imagine—
Is that of kneeling down.
The picture in the old copy of Pilgrim’s Progress I read as a child comes to my mind
(an illustrated, much-shorter-than-the original copy!):
Christian, stumbling all the way, has finally gotten to the cross
And dropped to his knees.
And that big old lumpy pack he’d been carrying on his back
Is rolling off.
Seems to me this is not a one-time occurrence in the Christian life.
I used to think it was.
One bow, real low,
And then I had to be off,
Pulling on my own bootstraps and
Figuring out how to be a “little Christ” all on my own.
I think all this because I was reading Second Peter,
and I got to this verse:
“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
I’ve spent a lot of time pursuing godliness in my own power
And all it’s reaped me is a bitter, narrow spirit focused on myself.
But when I bend myself to the work of humility,
To the acknowledgment of my own inexhaustible bent toward self
And my inability to do a darned thing about it.
When I embrace my constant need for pardon, for help,
Oh, this confession is so wonderfully good for my soul!
Still danger lurks,
In the very act of kneeling I begin to compare my sins with another’s—
Particularly those sins I see as being against ME!—
and in doing this I unconsciously pick up the pack and stand up,
laden with its weight, knees locked against the strain.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I’m learning it’s not a conditional statement so much as a necessity.
If I don’t forgive, I cannot humble myself,
And the burden cannot roll off my back.
My Lord will not wrestle me to the ground;
I must do this part myself,
Bend my stubborn legs,
Bow my head,
And let Him lift the load, lift me.
Life and godliness gifted to me
Through and by the Glory and Goodness,
The One I know best from my needy, dependent knees.