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Entries in Valley of Vision (2)


A subject most people don't want to hear about

Every morning, when I have my Bible reading and prayer time, I read from The Valley of Vision. It really is a wonderful volume. While the Puritans didn't do everything right, their devotional reflections reveal so much humility.

From this morning's passage, "Things Needful," I read these words:

I need spiritual comforts
that are gentle, peaceful, mild, refreshing,
that will melt me into conscious lowliness before thee,
that will make me feel and rest in thee as my All.

I thought about that phrase "conscious lowliness." That's not a topic most people want to think about. We tend to have a negative view of lowliness. When I read those words, though, I immediately thought of Paul's exhortation in Philippians 2. Lowliness is something Christ demonstrated to us, and it's something we are encouraged to pursue.

Lowliness goes against the grain of popular thinking. Lowliness is seen as weakness. But it's not the same thing. Some of the strongest people are the most lowly. Christ himself was lowly. Lowliness is not about strength; it is about who or what we are exalting, and whose will we are pursuing. If we pursue our own will above God's, that is not lowliness. If we constantly draw attention to ourselves, that is not lowliness. If we live as if we control our own destiny, that is not lowliness.

How do our daily lives reflect a desire to be lowly? What kind of activities foster lowliness? How do we demonstrate lowliness in our relationships with others? Our families? Our jobs? Our local church? When I think about my day, and how I spend my time, what can I trim away in order to focus on conscious lowliness? Off the top of my head, one thing that I need to do is speak less and listen more; offline and online. I can't help but think what a deterrent to lowliness Twitter can be.

More and more I'm beginning to see that lowliness and contentment are related. When I pursue lowliness, I'm not pursuing the exaltation of myself; I am directing my thoughts and energies to God. Actively seeking lowliness encourages me to yield to God's will, and it is in this yielding to God's will where I can find the most contentment. Yielding to God's will is the way to have my heart's desires changed. Lowliness doesn't mean we are weak; it just means we are recognizing the reality of who we and who God is.


The Puritans get it right

How's this for a convicting prayer in light of how much time we all spend with others and online.  It comes from The Valley of Vision:

May I scandazlie none by my temper and conduct,
but recommend and endear Christ to all around,
bestow good on everyone as circumstances permit,
and decline no opportunity of usefulness

I'd say that for a homebody like myself who engages in online dialogue with people, these words are an especially good reminder.  How often do we scandalize others by our outrageous and harsh words?  I struggle with having a tongue that longs to be busier than necessary.  Lord, grant me a guard over mind and mouth.