Generally, I don’t like repetition. The people in my house can all attest that once a song’s chorus (or worse, a single line) plays more than twice in a row, I start making faces. You know those songs that seem all nice for the main verses and the first couple of choruses and then have four minutes of the same words/melody repeated over and over, just getting louder and… yell-ey-er as they go? Yeah, those are the worst. There are artists I’ve banned from my house because of that nonsense.
Yet Sunday morning, we sang a song that did have a frequently repeated line, and this one didn’t get annoying. It was a meditation on and affirmation of one fact—I depend on Jesus. As we sang the line, “I depend on You,” I felt my heart softening to the fact that I can depend on Him, I should depend on Him, and I need my dependence on Him. Did you catch that last one? I depend on my dependence on Him.
Sometimes, being a teacher feels like one of those repetitive songs. Studies suggest that an average student needs to process a concept seven separate times before remembering it long-term. Above-average students might need slightly less repetition, but not as little as one might think. The eidetic memory of a person who can hear something one time and remember it forever is exceedingly rare.
I think God knows that His pupils are, on average… average. If something is important to God, He repeats it again, and again, and again. One of these refrains in the Bible is, “humble yourself.”
Sunday morning, Jurie spoke about humility. Humility is one of those concepts we get wrong more often than we get it right. Interestingly, Jurie preached on humility back in the fall of 2019, during our “Planted” series. I encourage you to go back and view that sermon; it provides additional context around the idea of humility. I wrote about it back then, too.
Re-hearing Jurie’s perspective on humility brought me a whole different set of mental images and understanding. This week’s sermon on humility hammered home what the idea of “I am enough” can do to us.
Humility is the understanding that neither I nor other people are sufficient to give me the life that God has planned for me. I cannot live in the fullness of what God intends if I’m focused on “selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3, NIV), nor if I’m “throw[ing] my pearls to pigs” (Matthew 7:6, NIV). Only by “work[ing] at [whatever I do] with all [my] heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23) can I “have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV).
Sunday morning, as I thought about working for the Lord and not for human masters and sang the phrase “I depend on You,” God showed me two vivid images.
Consider a stage play. There are times when a spotlight is placed on one of the actors. That person is the focus of the action—the sole speaker. Imagine yourself as the technician holding the spotlight. You have one job to do: just keep the light on the speaker. If they walk left, you move the light left. If they stand still, you hold the light steady. But now imagine yourself as the speaker. What if the spotlight technician’s job were to tell you where to move?
Here I am, standing in the Light of the Holy Spirit. When the Light moves, my job is to stay in the Light. As long as I stay in that Light, I don’t have to have all my lines memorized; I can discern them from the inspiration of the Light. But as soon as I step out of the Light, I have to rely on myself or my fellow actors to remember or remind me of what comes next. My memory isn’t great, and the other actors have their own lines to remember. This is when I begin to stumble. In this case, what is best for me, the audience, and my fellow actors is for me to STAY IN THE LIGHT. I Depend on That Light.
Have you ever been in a busy shopping district and had a stranger’s child grab your hand? To someone who’s knee-high, everyone’s knees probably look alike. The kiddo let go of mom’s or dad’s hand and looked away. As mom or dad moved along, you moved into their place. When the kiddo looked back at where mom or dad had been, you’re there, so your hand gets grabbed.
Sometimes, I think we’re like that child. We’re reaching out and holding God’s hand, allowing Him to guide our steps. Then we get distracted by all the “shiny things” around us and let go. We get stuck and realize we need a hand to hold, but we often just grab whatever hand we can see—our own or another person’s—but not necessarily God’s. Then we look up and realize we’ve been guided off to a place where God never would’ve led us.
Here’s the good news. Neither of those images I just gave you is perfect. Why? Because when you step out of the Light, the Light pursues you. When you let go of God’s hand, He doesn’t let you out of His sight. He may let you go on ahead a little way until you realize you’ve let go, but He’s not going to let you leave His presence entirely while you’re on this earth. He will always give you a way back into the Light, and back to His hand. Remember, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5b, NIV).
Humility is understanding that you’re better off when you cling to Jesus. Everyone around you is better off when you cling to Jesus too. Living only for yourself feels empty, living for other people feels heavy, but when you live for Jesus, His “yoke is easy and [His] burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
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