Loving my littleness

I have a flip-top collection of quotes of St. Thérèse in the room where I pray, and I have had it flipped to this quote for a few weeks now: “What pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty.”  This morning as I read it, I was struck by the word “loving.”  She doesn’t say “accepting” or “living with” or “bearing”, but “loving”.   Loving?

And then it struck me: that is exactly where I meet Christ in my life–in my littleness and poverty.  He favors the poor.  He came to us as the poor Man. So, of course, I should love that place and love dwelling there with Him.

Thank you, St. Thérèse.  Pray for me that my love for my littleness and poverty will increase.


I have been reading quite a bit of the writings of Isobel Kuhn, a protestant missionary to China right before Communism took over.  The excerpt below is from a book about a married couple and child who were trapped in China at the onset of Communism and not allowed to leave for quite awhile.  Isobel focuses in on the question that can tempt us all at various times in our lives: “If only . . .”  The woman she is writing about is the wife and mother in the family.

“If only that letter had not come, inviting us here.”  What about the “if”?  She got them [a tract she had on “If”] and read:

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” [Jn 11.32b]”  And He could have been there; He was not far away.  He knew all about it, and He let him die.  I think it was very hard for that woman . . . It is something God could  have made different, if He had chosen, because He has all power; and He has allowed that “if” to be there.

I do not discount the “if” in your life.  No matter what it is . . . Come to the Lord with your “if” and let Him say to you what He said to Martha.  He met her “if” with His “if”!  “Did I not tell you that IF you would believe you would see the glory of God” [Jn 11.40]” The glory of God is to come out of the “if” in your life. . .

Do not be thinking of your “if.”  Make a power out of your “if” for God. . .

Do you know that  light is to fall on your “if” some day?  Then take in the possibilities and say, “Nothing has ever come to me, nothing has ever gone from me, that I shall be better for God by it . . .”

Face the “if” in your life and say, For this I have Jesus.

But there is nothing to be ashamed of if you experience those “ifs” plaguing you, as Isobel Kuhn goes on to write:

[O]ur Lord never scolded Martha for her “if”; nor Mary (who accompanied the same “if” with mute worship, prostrating herself at His feet), but with her, He wept.  Wept at the sorrow which must accompany spiritual growth in our lives: for by suffering He also learned obedience.  (Green Leaf in Drought, p. 36)

Little words (7)

In October I did a series of posts on “little words” in Scripture that are really “big” words.  I wanted to share another with you today.  

Psalm 73.26: But God

These words have been like strong hands lifting up, bearing up, countless thousands of souls. “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.”  Many who will read this note are well and strong and joyful in their work, thank God for that.  Sooner or later, however, to most who follow the Crucified, there comes a time when flesh and heart fail, and if it were not for that “But God”, we should go under. . . .   (Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways, p. 12)

It’s evident to me what it means to have your flesh fail, but I have been pondering what it may mean to have your heart fail: sorrow, doubts, hopelessness, discouragement, etc.  It comforts me to hear those words: but God even in the midst of those failings.  He will be for us all times–another very important little word.  🙂

(For the other “little words” posts, go to the first one here and move on from there.)

Little words (6)

Today I want to point out what is undoubtedly the most important little word that I have circled in my Bible.  To do that, I need to go back to the scripture I referred to in  “Little words (4)”:

“Behold, I go forward,  but he is not there;
     and backward, but I cannot perceive him;
on the left hand I seek him, but I cannot behold him;
     I turn to the right hand, but I cannot see him.
But he knows the way that I take:
     when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
                                           (Job 23:9-10)

As you can see, the word I’m referring to is “he”.  The fact that he knows the way I take–even though I cannot seem to find him or perceive him–makes all the difference.

Little words (5) “But if not . . .”

Three little words today: “But if not . . .”  And once again, it was Amy Carmichael who brought these to my attention.  The context is Daniel 3:16-18.  The three young men are threatened with the fiery furnace if they will not bow down the false god.  Nebuchadnezzar asks them: If I do this, who will snatch you from my hands? Their reply is: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”

Amy refers to this passage in this selection from her book, Thou Givest . . . They Gather:

Some years ago we were caught in the turmoil of Law Court trouble [Note: Amy rescued Indian children from temple prostitution]; it lasted for many months, and utterly exhausted those of us who were submerged in it.  During that time a friend came for a visit, and his (as it seemed to me) light faith was a trial, not a help.  Of course, we should win, he said–“Power over all the power of the enemy”–was not that our Lord’s own word?  What need for anxiety?  Everything would be all right.  I remember thanking God for the Psalms with their cries of depth.  This shallow sureness got me nowhere.  I could not forget “But if not . . .”

I do not think we should ever forget that “must” of our Lord Jesus, spoken just after the shining word about His coming: “So shall also the Son of Man be in His day.  but first He must suffer many things” (Lk 17.24-5).  They followed a suffering Savior, the warrior souls and heroes of faith all down the ages . . ..

Of course, this brings to mind that powerful eleventh chapter in Hebrews wherein is recounted all those who “by faith” “did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart form us they should not be made perfect.”

May God give us the grace to be able always to say: “But if not . . .”

Little words (4)

I’d like to point out another significant use of the little word, “but”, that I have circled in my bible:  Job 23:8-10.

“Behold, I go forward,  but he is not there;
     and backward, but I cannot perceive him;
on the left hand I seek him, but I cannot behold him;
     I turn to the right hand, but I cannot see him.
But he knows the way that I take:
     when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Where would we be if we only had those first two verses and not the third beginning with that little word?  It makes all the difference.

Little words (3)

Today’s little word from those circled in my bible comes from Ps 102, verse 12: “but”.  The previous verses are a litany of personal suffering.  As Derek Kidner describes it: “The cry of one whose sufferings are unexplained.”  When one’s suffering is unexplained, it makes the suffering even more intense.  The psalmist pours forth his woe: “My heart is smitten like grass, and withered; I forget to eat my bread.  Because of my loud groaning, my bones cleave to my flesh. . . I lie awake, I am like a lonely bird on the housetop . . .  for you have taken me up and thrown me away.”  These are dire cries from a forsaken soul. 
       Yet, out of this heartfelt suffering rises the little word, “but”–and that word makes all the difference: “BUT you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations.  You will arise and have pity on Zion.”  Etc.  An incredible act of trust and courage.  This is indeed heroic hope.  A hope and trust placed not in one’s circumstances but in Someone who can be trusted because of Who He is and Whose word never fails. 
       May this little word encourage each of us.  May we pray for the grace to use it in the midst of our own litanies, that we, too, may say: “BUT you, O Lord, are the lover of my soul.  Your steadfast love endures forever.  Your mercies are new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness.”

Little words (2)

More instances of the little word “all” in Scripture.

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A follow-up on yesterday’s post about the little word “all”.  After reading Amy’s reflection on “all” meaning all, I found myself noticing that little word more.  For instance, Ps 25.16: “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.”  “All” means all, not some.  So wherever the Lord leads my steps are full of His steadfast love and faithfulness.  No matter how it looks or feels.

Or take Ps 145.  I have eleven “alls” circled in my Bible in that psalm.  For example, vv. 17-18: “The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.  The Lord is near to all who call upon him . . .”   Take some time to find the rest of them yourself. . . and better yet, meditate on what that little word means for you.  “All” means all.

Little words (1)

Little words in Scripture can be very significant.

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I’d like to start a mini-series of posts today–about little words in the Bible.  I have quite a few circled in mine.  What started me noticing them–and their significance–was a meditation I read years ago by Amy Carmichael.  Here it is:

Eph 6.16 Above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.
Shield wall

The word used for shield signifies a great oblong shield which covers the whole body, and the dart mentioned here is the kind which when it strikes a hard object catches fire.  The promise is that when the dart strikes the great shield of faith, though it is set on fire, it is quenched.  It cannot pierce the shield.  It cannot burn the one who is behind the shield.  The promise covers all manner of darts.  The kind of dart hurled against us makes no difference to the promise.  “All” means allDo we expect “all” to mean all?  Is there a secret fear in our hearts about a certain kind of temptation which perhaps we shall not be able to overcome?  Away with this fear!  It is of the devil.  The shield of faith is ready to be taken up and used.  If we take it up and use it, not a single dart of any sort will pierce it.  All means all.

Think about the power of that little word: “all”–and look for it in other places in Scripture.