Saturday, 21 February 2009

cross out the 'I'

I've been reading Dr. Helen Roseveare's book, Living Holiness.

It's been an interesting and challenging read.  The main point to each chapter is clear and illustrated powerfully by examples from her life and the lives of the people she worked with in Congo. 

Here is an example.  Here she is talking about dying to self.
Pastor Ndugu, a godly African church elder, first made this truth real to me, some four years afer I started my missionary service in Congo.  Things had gone wrong at Nebobongo.  I was very conscious that my life was not what is should have been.  I was losing my temper with nurses, being impatient with the sick, getting irritated with workmen.  Everything had got on top of me.  I was overwhelmingly tired, with an impossible work load and endless responsibilities.  Suddenly I knew that I had to get away from it all and sort myself out and seek God's forgiveness and restoration, if I was to continue in the work.
The pastor had seen my spiritual need and made all the arrangements for me to go to stay in his village for a long weekend.  I felt crushed by my own wretchedness and oft-repeated failures.  I knew I was quite unworthy of the title 'missionary' and I yearned to know the secret of a closer walk wit God and of a new in-filling by the Holy Spirit.  On the Sunday evening, I went to the pastor and his wife, as they sat together in the palaver hut by the embers of the fire, and asked him to help me.  I did not have to explain what I meant.  He knew.
Opening his Bible at Galatians 2:20, he drew a straight line in the dirt floor with his heel.  'I,' he said, 'the capital I in our lives, Self, is the great enemy.'
Stillness reigned.
'Helen, ' he said quietly, after a long pause, 'the trouble with you is that we can see so much Helen that we cannot see Jesus.'
Again he paused, and my eyes filled with tears.
'I notice that you drink much coffee,' he continued presently, apparently going off at a tangent. 'When they bring a mug of hot coffee to you, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, you stand there holding it, until it is cool enough to drink.  May I suggest that every time, as you stand and wait, you should lift your heart to God and pray...' and as he spoke, he moved his heel in the dirt across the I he had previously drawn,
'... Please, God, cross out the I.'
It was very still.
There in the dirt was his lesson of simplified theology- the Cross - the crossed-out I* life.
From Living Holiness, p75-76

* (emphasis mine)

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