"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The First Step Toward Imitation

I had been looking forward to the trip for 4 months: a 2 night get-a-way to the north GA mountains in mid-October, peak season for the brilliant fall foliage.  To top it off, my husband and I were staying at the Brasstown Valley Resort which offered wonderful accommodations and breathtaking scenery.  So you can imagine the letdown when I entered our room, threw open the door to what I thought would be the balcony and saw this:

... stacked scaffolding -- and beyond that, the parking lot.  And let me just admit, if there's anything this girl enjoys more than a coffee maker in a hotel room, it's a balcony with a view.  And I had neither of the latter.  And quite frankly, I was ticked at God.  After all, our friends on the 3rd floor got "the view."  Miles and miles of rolling mountain view.
But what could I do?  I just sighed and said to my husband, "Oh, well."  But honestly, inside I was more than a little ticked about it.  I had been short changed for heaven's sake.  I had waited a long time for this trip, and by golly, I wanted a balcony and a view so I could sit outside and enjoy God.  (I make myself so sick at times.) 
The next morning, as we were on our way to breakfast in the lodge, I pointed out across the lawn and said to my husband, "When you get through with your meeting, you can find me there."  Lord knows I love a swing ... and there were 3 of them placed high above the putting greens.  And so after breakfast, I donned my denim jacket, loaded up my book bag, stopped by the dining room for a fresh cup of hot cinnamon and orange tea, and took to the stairs outside.  And this is where I found my place to breathe.  Shades of red, orange, yellow and green gave way to a blue October sky and rolling mountain topography.

If there's one thing I didn't want to do it was to keep my nose in a book for the couple of hours I was to be there; I wanted time to enjoy this sacred space, utilizing all my senses.  And so I chose Longing for God by Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe as my companion, hoping that the few pages I would read would spark conversation with the One with whom I hoped to commune.  And did it ever!
I opened it to where I had left off a week prior and found myself confronted (and I mean that in every sense of the word) with the chapter on Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ.  In it Beebe offers 8 steps or priorities if we are to indeed become imitators.  "The first step," he writes, "to spiritual transformation is to destroy our self-centeredness."  Oh, my.  This was not going to be good.  There were 7 steps to go, each one building on the former, and I was already stuck on #1.  And it got worse.  "Humility is based on perceiving reality accurately, including the truth that life does not revolve around our needs and desires."  Double 'oh, my" as my personal definition of humility was being challenged.  "The very nature of the spiritual life runs counter to our natural desires.  We do not discover happiness naturally.  In fact, our self-centeredness is so powerful that we fail to see that we cannot engineer our own happiness but only prepare for it." 
Wow!  Talk about a conversation starter.  It didn't take me long to recognize that my sorry attitude, outwardly silent as it may have been, was the antithesis of humility.  In fact, it was pure pride.  (Ouch. That hurts to even write it.)   Yet God, in His faithfulness, was quick to point out that sitting there in that swing was pure grace, in fact, as much so as on the one to whom He HAD given the balcony with  a view.
And so I relinquished my attitude along with the balcony and room view and thanked Him for His incredible goodness in that, while showing me His colors, He also showed me mine by calling me out in this first step toward imitation. 
Just an ordinary moment...

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