First off, it’s a very foggy day here in Glenside. White on the ground, white in the sky. A very foggy, magical Monday.
Secondly, looking back, I see that often I have been gripped with a desire for self-improvement. At L’Abri I read “After You Believe” by N.T. Wright, which truly, is a delightful book. But I read it with a heart desire of “yes, the pilot who landed on the Hudson is this amazing man of great character. I want to be like him. I want to have amazing character.” My desire was limited to self-improvement and self-growth. My eyes were turned inward, rather than having eyes turned on my Creator. We are all creatures…our eyes should be looking to our Creator, not to our created selves, and definitely not to other creatures around us. I had fallen prey to my culture’s call around me to look deeper into myself (frankly, looking at one’s self is pretty uninteresting), or look at a self help-book. By God’s grace, he is drawing my eyes to him. I’m not very successful at ignoring my desire to look for help elsewhere, but awareness is a good first step! And I’m praying for help reorienting my help-seeking tendencies. At some point I want to read “After You Believe” again, and be on the lookout to see if Wright does encourage inward gazing rather than Creator gazing. My heart definitely could have been twisting his words.
And more from Ed Welch on the subject. Again, from When People Are Big and God is Small:
“ALL experiences of the fear of man share at least one common feature: people are big. They have grown to idolatrous proportions in our lives. They control us. Since there is no room in our hearts to worship both God and people, whenever people are big, God is not. Therefore, the first task in escaping the fear of man is to know that God is awesome and glorious, not other people….
…Roger Schmurr said that one of the things he tried to do during family devotions was talk about God. That was it. That was my revelation.
Let me explain. As a counselor I live in a “how to” world. A depressed person talks with me because he or she wants to know how to get rid of depression. Couples don’t feel any romance in their relationship. They want to know how to have that spark again. Sometimes, I confess, I speak more about the “how to” than about God.
I have two children who have brought home great Sunday school materials. Typically, I would read these papers on Sunday afternoon. They were always very helpful, full of biblical principles and their application. Lots of good “how to’s.” There were edifying stories of children who felt rejected by their friends and how Jesus could help them love those who were mean. I remember one on cheating was especially good. But they rarely talked about God.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that the application of Scripture to the details of our lives is great. My observation, however, is that these principles are not always embedded in the fear of the Lord. The result is that our goal can be self-improvement rather than the glory of the Holy God. We need more sermons that leave us trembling” (pp.95-96).