Friday, July 6, 2012

First Place.

Heather came running out the door of the classroom, breathless.  "Mommy, mommy!  Look!  I got a ribbon!"  Pride swelled up in my chest as I smiled and patted her on the back.  I was delighted to see that "Fun 'n Run" Day had been a success.  H had been looking forward to the preschool Field Day for weeks, especially the ice cream social that was to follow (we love ice cream around here, as you know.  We are also fond of our preschool.). I wondered which event she had conquered to receive her special accolade, so I tracked down the sweet teacher. I waved the ribbon toward her and asked, "What did Heather do to get her ribbon?"

Heather has many strengths, including a strong nurturing instinct, compassion, humor, and song, but athleticism is far from her greatest strength (although she shocked me on the uneven bars as a friends' gymnastics party the other day.  Her flexibility is seriously UNMATCHED, people).
So I was a little surprised she had received a ribbon for a Field Day event.  It all made sense when the teacher told me.

"All the children want the chance to go first at each event," she said.  "We hand out first place ribbons to those children who don't push and shove their way to the front and those who are waiting politely and patiently for a turn.  The ribbons are not for the actual event, but the attitude toward it."

I wanted to hug her.  And cry.  And cheer.


As Jesus preached His famous Sermon on the Mount, He let out a list of people the world denigrates.  Our society identifies these people with weakness, deficiency, flaw.   

Yet God honors these people.  He even says they're blessed. 

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."

The Son of God extols these folks as examples of that for which God is looking.

There's one in particular which is probably one of the trickiest in this world of building platforms and branding.

"God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth."

I looked up the words humble and meek, and this is what my go-to source said:
"1. Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.
2. Showing deferential or submissive respect.
3. Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly."
It was convicting just reading those definitions, right?  Often we get caught in the trap of believing we are only worth something to God when we have something to give.

The opposite is true: when we become followers of Jesus Christ and begin to lay down our agendas and appearances of perfection for Him, it's then we receive His richest blessing of sheer delight.  
Jesus is telling us when we find ourselves in last place, perhaps even by accident -- it's then when He takes notice, swoops in, and hands us that First Place ribbon that we didn't even know was coming. When we weren't trying to get ahead, or pushing through the wild throng, or dangling from the ladder, but trapped at the bottom.  He delights not in my ability, but my lack thereof.

It's not that Heather didn't want to be first, but she is pretty small for her age and from time to time can even seem intimidated by groups of kids her own age.  My daughter is not the type of kid to push her way to the front. If she's been done wrong, you'll know about it, and she ends up being the victim far more than the perpetrator around these parts.  As a middle child, she must at times feel as though she gets lost in the shuffle. 

God sees her need for rescue, her lack of defense for herself, and her overwhelming desire for protection.  That is a blessed thing to God: someone who can't do it on her own, a girl who might not win a ribbon in the event, a person who can cry out and show the humility it takes to announce her need for The Rescuer.  Society focuses on our potential, so we aren't used to being so open about our powerlessness.  The blessing seems counter-intuitive, but so does the rest of this Great Story.

Isn't it so incredible for God to be blessed by our needs the way He is?  And for us to be blessed for having a need?   

This song has been helpful to me in illustrating this idea, and the story behind it is so powerful too...

Is it hard to reveal your need for God?  Have you ever read the Beatitudes in this context before?


Ashley Lynne said...

The Beatitudes are so hard for me. They get me right in the chest every time that I read them.

I am so thankful that my needs reveal places for His strength abs glory to shine through. That's for sure.