The following story is a result of God’s working in three particular areas ~ ~
in my studying and praying for this first chapter on humility;
in my praying for wisdom to write a letter to encourage our granddaughter, Kourtney, who is turning eighteen this month, and graduating from high school this year;
and in my memorizing, playing and singing our Hymn of the Month, O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.
You may want to read the story; later read the first chapter from the PDF or the book; then come back for the remainder. They fit together, but may be too long for one sitting. Remember, we have all month for meditation on this first chapter.
THE LITTLE BOAT
“Michael was a young man who, as a child, heard and read about, and saw movies, of distant places. It became his heart’s desire to see the world. So, getting an education, then a job, he saved his money. Forgoing marriage until he realized his dream, he made his plans; and one day booked his passage on the largest cruise ship that he could find.
Having come to the day of fulfilling his dream, he arrived with his luggage at the place of departure. The gigantic ship Pride was appropriately named. Even from a distance its size and presence took his breath away. There was this huge world within a world, beckoning him to enter, to come away, and enjoy his success. How proud he was to see his plans coming to fruition. The ramp into the ship was ample for the multitude that was boarding upward into his dream.
Awe-struck, he practically tripped over himself as he carried his stuff to the ship.
As he struggled toward the ship another young man standing by asked if he needed help.
He said, “No, I can handle it.”
At the same time a small sign next to the man caught his eye ~
~~~It read, “Boat to Paradise.”
“You have a boat?” Michael asked.
“Sure,” the young man answered, pointing to the end of the pier.
Michael said, “I don’t see it.”
“Would you like to?” the man asked.
He replied, “Sure, I have a few minutes before my ship leaves.”
Walking to the end of the pier he saw this small fishing boat with a set of oars.
Snickering to himself Michael said “So, you take people to Paradise in your little boat?”
Understanding his cynicism the man answered, “Yes, I do, one at a time.”
Now that his curiosity was stirred Michael asked, “How many people have you taken to Paradise?”
The man answered, “Only a few; not many people believe me, and so miss out on this one; most prefer the big ship, and all the other places.”
Then Michael’s interest was more than he could control and so, questioned once more, “How much do you charge for your little excursion?”
The man replied, “There is no money in exchange; just understanding that you have to leave your baggage here. You don’t need to take anything with you; everything you will need is provided for you. You must also be willing to follow instructions. You must listen to my directions. I must teach you how to get through the rough waters; how to survive the long, slow passage; and prepare you for your arrival. Without this dependence on me you will not make it; nor would you appreciate what you experience when you get there.”
Michael had one more question as he looked out over the ocean. He saw beyond the cruise ship the brightness of the sun, but in the direction of the small boat there were clouds.
“Do the cruise ships dock at Paradise?”
In reply the man said, “ The cruise ships are too big. The inlet is only large enough for this small boat.”
Michael by then was intently drawn to this man; somehow he believed that what he was offering was true. The man was not forceful. He was not arrogant. He was meek in his manner, yet very strong.
Michael, out of the corner of his eye, saw the cruise ship Pride move away from the port as he, with the help of the man’s hand, stepped down into his little boat.
As the man moved the oars across the waves, rippled by Pride, the little boat became steady. Michael watched as his dream ship got smaller and smaller. Further out he saw the ship sink into the horizon engulfed with flames and smoke.
Far out in the ocean, beyond sight of land, they passed through rough waters. They experienced rain, thunder and lightning, yet without fear or harm.
After the settling of the storm Michael and the man talked about life. They compared the differences in each of theirs. Michael learned much that he had not been taught in the schools he had attended. The man told him that Paradise was a place owned by his father, who sent him to invite and accompany those whom he wanted to share his huge estate. Each one there had been given a portion of his kingdom, and had the means and the liberty to go and come, as they desired. Some brought others back with them to receive the same blessings.
Even before they arrived at their destination Michael’s dream had changed. He believed that there was a place, a Paradise, which had been deserted, and now restored; and revealed to only a few. He learned that humility was the only means of getting there. Reaching this destination meant trusting the one who invited him, and was taking him there.”
Not everybody will need an explanation of this parable, but for those who might ~~ Michael represents those who trust in, and follow Christ, with whom God planned to save His people. His Son knows the way of humility. Having been born in humble surroundings of poor parents, brought up as a carpenter’s son, Jesus, the Son of God and Man, lived humbly, and so died humbly, by the pride and hands of men. By His mercy He saves us from the sin of pride and destruction; by His grace He gives us a portion of His kingdom, and brings us to live with Him eternally.
Only He can teach us, and lead us in the way of humility. There is no way to God except in Him and the power of His Spirit working in us to loose us from pride; that we may see it for what it is, to loathe it; to love and cling to the Savior. It means total dependence on Him; not on ourselves, on others, or the things of this world.
In the reality of Christ our fantasies fade away. True joy in this world is living in light of the promises of that eternal paradise with Him; each day humbly waiting on Him, as He works His will in us and prepares us for His glory.
Humility is accepting all things as they come; believing in His sovereignty and plans for us, praising Him in all things as we seek His kingdom and righteousness, anticipating that He will lead us to know Him and what He desires for us. One on one with Christ is sometimes a lonely life, away from the business and frills of the world; but this alone is true life and happiness. In His plans for us He brings us together with others who are following Him.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
First Things First in the First Chapter of Humility
“Thou art worthy, O Lord,
to receive glory and honor and power:
for thou hast created all things,
and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”
The treasure of humility is not easily seen in the world today.
To find “that which was lost” it is fitting that we return to the beginning, so that we understand what we are looking for. In this first chapter Andrew Murray takes us back to God, the Creator, to reveal His purpose for our creation.
(Following the above story I had hoped to do a quick review, but after trying to shorten it there seemed to be something missing. Much of it is repetitive; but all relative to understanding Murray’s main points.) Throughout this chapter he uses key pronouns and words that help us to see; so that we are able to sense our need of humility and its reality in our individual lives. Here are the key words in the proper order.
Before there was creation and a need for redemption there was God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; three in One. There was relationship. There was life, without earthly creatures. There was the glory of God shared with the angels. There was nothing so glorious as what they had been given in their relationship. But some wanted more; some wanted God’s place.
(I have underlined ship, because it helps me to think of any word that ends in ‘ship’ as a place where there is unity, where two or more come together in the same mind, heart and spirit, with the same destination; relationship, fellowship, membership, etc. There is a captain, and passengers.)
When God created the heavens and the earth, He made man in His image. Men, not angels, were to be His image-bearers. Through man He would reveal “the glory of His love, His wisdom and His power.”
“As God is the ever-living, ever-present, ever-acting One — who upholds all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3) —the relationship of man to God could only be one of unceasing, absolute, universal dependence.
“As truly as God by His power once created so truly by that same power must God every moment, maintain.”
There is no true life apart from this relationship.
“The life God bestows is imparted not once and for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of His mighty power.”
“When the serpent breathed the poison of his pride —the desire to be like God—into the hearts of our first parents, they, too, fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk.”
By leaving them to their own will, God proved that apart from Him they were unable to follow His instructions and fulfill their purpose.
Here is where Satan and man wanted to be; on the same level with God.
GOD Satan and Man
The relationship between God and man was shipwrecked; they were removed from the life and joy that God had intended for them.
It is at this point that we must see “Pride, or the loss of this humility, as the root of every sin and evil; the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.”
“The truth is this — pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you. Do not look at pride as only an unbecoming temper, or at humility as only a decent virtue. The one is death, and the other is life; the one is all hell, the other is all heaven. As much as you have of pride within you, so you have of the fallen angel alive in you. As much as you have of true humility, so you have of the Lamb of God within you.”
Apart from our creation there is a second blessing and power for the Christian —
“the restoration of our lost humility, the original and only true relationship of man to God.”
“Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us. Here on earth ‘He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death’ (Philippians 2:8). And now the salvation He imparts is nothing less than a communication of His own life and death, His own disposition and spirit.”
“His own humility has become the ground and root of His relationship to God and His redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man by His life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.”
“And so the life of the saved ones, of the saints, must bear this stamp of deliverance from sin, and full restoration to their original state. Their whole relationship to both God and man must be marked by an all-pervading humility. Without this there can be no true abiding in God’s presence or experience of His favor and the power of His Spirit. Without this there can be no abiding faith or love or joy or strength.”
It is here that we must meet our Creator and Redeemer –— admitting, “that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous as pride. Let us feel that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will disclose how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how weak we are to obtain what we seek.”
If we are to experience “this highest virtue, our only happiness, now and through all eternity we must present ourselves as empty vessels in which God can dwell and manifest His power and goodness; the form and the vessel in which the life and glory of God are to work and manifest themselves.”
“Humility is simply acknowledging the truth of our position as man and yielding to God His place. It is the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all.”
“Such humility (the humility of Christ) is not a thing that will come on its own. It must be made the object of special desire, prayer, faith, and practice.
“If you could see what a sweet, divine, transforming power there is in humility, how it expels the poison of your nature, and makes room for the Spirit of God to live in you, you would rather wish to be the footstool of all the world than lack the smallest degree of it.”
As we continue each month in this pursuit and joy of humility “let us study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of His humility. And let us believe that, when we are broken down under a sense of our pride, and realize our inability to cast it out, Jesus Christ Himself will give us this grace as part of His wondrous life within us.”
“For whom he did foreknow,
he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Gracious Father in heaven, we thank you for bringing us to your Son, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer; and for the power of your Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and lives for repentance, redemption, reconciliation and renewal. As we continue our study in the life of the Lamb let us experience this grace that works His humility in us through your word and divine power.
“Of your great goodness make known to us and take from our hearts every kind and form and degree of pride; and awaken in us the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make us capable of your light and your Holy Spirit.” In Jesus name, we pray. Amen
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me,
Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of Thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward To Thy glorious rest above.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, Changeth never, nevermore;
How He watches o’er His loved ones, Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, Watcheth oe’r them from the throne.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Love of every love the best;
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, “Tis a haven sweet of rest.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ‘Tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, For it lifts me up to Thee.
(Words by Samuel Trevor Francis, 1875; Music Ebenezer, Thomas John Williams, 1890)
Related article: A Year for Humility Preview of Preface to Humility by Andrew Murray