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Humble Rest

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | 9/2/2019

I am currently reading Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. It’s a short little book, but I’m reading it slowly because it is filled with rich insights and, well, because it’s about contemplation. I came across this little insight this morning that gave me pause: “Give me humility in which alone is rest…”[1]

Obviously humility is a Biblical virtue, and obviously the God who commanded Sabbath is a God who gives rest, but humility and rest aren’t necessarily two concepts that I would immediately think to connect. After further “contemplation,” however, I’m amazed at how connected they are. Madeleine L’Engle called pride “a fatness of spirit, an overindulgence in self… Pride is heavy.”[2] Pride is a weighty burden to carry around. Humility, then, is a sort of fasting from oneself, or at least from overindulging and overanalyzing and overfixating on oneself. In humility is a tremendous freedom and tremendous… rest:

In humility I can rest from needing to be right, knowing God alone holds all truth.

In humility I can rest from needing to build or protect my own reputation or my legacy (as someone who is successful or hard-working or intelligent or… you fill in the blank for what you are craving to be recognized for in your life), knowing that I exist not to garner recognition for myself, but to bring glory to God.

In humility I can rest from perfectionism, knowing that perfection will not come from inside of me by my own efforts, but from outside of me as the One who is perfect makes me more like himself.

In humility I can rest from fear and anxiety, realizing that simply knowing all the scary possibilities doesn’t give me any more power over them, and that I can find refuge in our Mighty Fortress God.

In humility I can rest from needing to get my own way, knowing that not getting my way might actually be the best thing for me, and that my best bet is following the one who is the Way.

In humility I can rest even amidst tension and uncertainty, remembering that I am finite and limited in my vantage point, but trusting the One who is able to hold all things and reconcile all things.

In humility I can rest from the shame of failures in my past or fear of failure in the future, knowing that “to err is human,” and to love us and sacrifice himself for us and offer himself to us in spite of those errors is Christ.

 

[1] Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation (New York: Dell Publishing, 1949), 30.

[2] Madeleine L’Engle, The Weather of the Heart: Selected Poems (Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2001), 92.

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