And yes, I know that is the longest, wordiest title to a post ever. But I like it.
I have three posts brewing in my head right now and between this mornings 5:15a p90x session and Bible Study tonight, there are just not enough hours in this day. So, if I can’t get all my words out before I close my eye’s tonight than you’ll have to just forgive the over-indulgent post title, ok? We’re still friends, right?
I go in phases with music. For awhile, I will listen to only one artist or one cd until I have just about worn them/it out. Then I’ll put them/it away for awhile and move on obsessively to another artist/cd/(sometimes) song. I have to tell you this so you won’t think I am just shamelessly promoting my sister. Because of course I would never do that.
Anyway, its her most recent cd (see second ‘ahem’) that I have been listening to non-stop in my car for the last few weeks. There are a boxes of them around my parents house and one day on my way to the car, I could hear them calling out to me. So I grabbed one and was late to my destination because I had to fight with the packaging for ten minutes in the car before pulling out of the driveway. (Why must they package music like it is a nuclear bomb? This I will never understand)
One particular song (see third ‘ahem’) came to mind this morning as I was sitting on the floor of the sanctuary in front of the altar. I was reading Daniel because last night I just couldn’t quit thinking about it. Don’t you just love it when you get a craving for a particular passage of the Word? Having gone a few years without being able to hear from God, I now savor each moment I can hear His voice or at least can recognize His wooing.
So sitting cross legged in the dimly lit room, I poured over a few chapters of Daniel, picking up from where I had last left off and I ended up digging into the life of Nebuchadnezzar. And this is the point where that song started playing in my mind and without even realizing it, I began to hum a few familiar lines. Pride keeps turning up in the strangest places in my life. I think that’s why the Spirit has me singing and humming this refrain over and over:
So humble me just like you did,
the king who lost his mind in the wilderness,
And don’t let me go back until I confess,
You are the Only God
So I sat and hummed as I read about that king who lost his mind in the wilderness. You see, Daniel was known for having a heavy presence of the Spirit on his life that allowed him to interpret dreams and visions. King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about a great tree whose branches reached all the way up to the heavens and whose breadth was width of the earth. Animals lived in the tree and found shelter in its grand branches and it was full of fruit and supple leaves, which fed animals and birds. People found comfort in its shade. But then an angel came down from heaven and made a declaration: the tree was to be cut down and its branches cut off and every living thing shook from it. The stump was to be left with the roots intact…
Daniel tells the great king that he is the tree and that God intends to show him him and the rest of the “…living may know that the Most High [God] rules the kingdom of mankind and gives it to whomever He will and sets over it the humblest and lowliest of men.”
Daniel pleads with the king to repent of his pride so that maybe God will relent from the judgment that is coming. But about a year later the king is walking in his royal palace and he’s thinking pretty highly of himself and he says, “Is not this the great Babylon that I have built as the royal residence and seat of government by the might of MY power and for the honor and glory MY majesty?”
I love how the story teller put it, “While the words were still in the king’s mouth…” While the words were still in his mouth, every word of what Daniel had said by the Spirit of God became reality. The king became like an animal… he was driven out away from the rest of society, made to eat grass like a farm animal, and even his appearance became like that of a wild animal. He had lost his mind.
And for seven years, this was the state the great Babylonian king was reduced to.
I guess, so much for the “might of his power” and the “honor and glory of his majesty”, eh?
The seven years ended just as Daniel said that it would and Nebuchadnezzar got his mind back. God had cut down the tree, but left the roots…its some serious pruning but it was a necessary pruning. Pride was like an infection in the tree, poisoning every branch. The whole tree had to go in order for new growth to spout up and be free of the poison.
I love that when Nebuchadnezzar’s “right use of his mind” returns, the first thing he does is bless God! The wrong use of his mind had been elevating himself; the right use of his mind was making much of the Most High God who “…rules the kingdom of mankind and gives it to whomever He will…”
This week I came face to face with some of poison of pride in my own life. It took me a few minutes to realize that’s what I was feeling because pride was all dressed up like righteous indignation. The Bible says that Satan masquerades as an angel and I think the whole kingdom of darkness has followed suit. The enemy knows that if he tries to trip me up with blatant pride, I will quickly recognize it and rebuke him because I know what happens when I don’t. Trust me, it is not pretty. So, he’s taken to making over pride in hopes that I won’t recognize him. This week, pride went through a transformation Heidi Montag would be drooling over and for a second I almost believed he was righteous indignation.
He sounded something like this:
“Why is that person still excelling at that? Don’t you get it God? What about this situation or the time they did that? So exactly when does that whole sowing and reaping principle fall into place? Why does that person have this while I have that?” etc etc etc… you get the picture.
I felt those feelings… pride’s feelings….for a few minutes while I was driving in the car, pondering how unfair things are, weighing the integrity of people in my own balances, thinking I had gotten the short stick while God just ignored the sin in other people’s lives.
Somewhere tiny little violins started playing.
And then the Spirit of God grabbed me by the shoulders, threw a little cold water in my face and helped me to snap out of it. Upon taking a closer look, it was obvious that the costume didn’t fit well. The more I scrutinized, the more his true identity came to the forefront…
…nothing more than garden variety pride, that’s what he was. Nothing more than the enemy wanting me to think I know how to better deal with people than the very God who created them in His likeness and put His breath in their lungs.
Nebuchadnezzar elevated his majesty and might as he paraded through a palace, forgetting the God who had hewn the mountains and caused the sun to rise. I was tempted to elevate my authority over the God who with a word spoke the world into existence, brought people back to life, and caused demons to shriek out in fear, “please don’t terrorize us”. Our pride was equally as offensive and ridiculous.
Several times Daniel says in chapter 4 says that the God who is able to humble those who walk in pride will do it “until”.. until what? “…until you learn and know and recognize that the Most High [God] rules the kingdom of mankind and gives it to whomever He will” Until we recognize that in the most simple and the most profound ways, He is God and has all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with it and that I am a servant and have all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with it.
I don’t want God to have to warn me and warn me and warn me and then take a drastic measure to get me back to the right use of my mind. I want to listen to the Spirit’s heeding when His voice is still at the whisper level.
I want to keep in my mouth this one confession,
You are the Only God.
Even when it doesn’t make sense to me or it doesn’t seem fair or I just don’t understand,
You are the Only God
Even when my flesh wants to be offended or pitied or angry,
You are the Only God
And even when I don’t think You’re acting quickly enough or executing vengeance like I want You to,
humble my short sided mind and help me to say,
You are the Only God