Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whoever Exalts Himself

This post for today has been rolling around in my head for some time now.  It's one of those things that just won't go away, and I don't know if writing about it will make it go away or not, but I've decided to go with it.

I get a lot of praise and, for lack of a better term, adoration because of the work I do with the Lakota kids.  Being human, I feel good about what I'm doing and that people notice; however, I also feel enormous discomfort when receiving the praise and adoration because I don't think I'm doing anything special. 

I love going to Pine Ridge each year, and honestly start anticipating my return the minute we drive away from the reservation.  I can't hardly wait until September rolls around each year.  Many times I question if this ministry is a God thing or a Lisa thing.  I usually begin to question it when I'm trying to get the funds needed to make the mission happen, but we always get just what we need, and I know it's absolutely a God thing.  So, in the end, I conclude if God didn't want this to happen, we wouldn't get what we need.  The struggle while overwhelming at the time is always that much sweeter when I see God come through.

So, I think I'm supposed to go.  I think God was preparing me for this long before I had even the slightest inkling I would be doing this every year.  I have always been fascinated by Indian culture and tradition.  And, as I started to study the history of the American Indians, He placed a burden on my heart for the people that never goes away.  I can't explain how my heart aches for these people across our country, who have faced such injustices so often at the hand of people claiming to be Christians.  I think God and Jesus must have felt such sorrow at how the American Indians have suffered. 

My greatest fear in the work I do is that one of these days, I will start believing I'm something special for going  Therefore, I remain ever vigilant to stay grounded in the one truth, which is the only one who deserves praise is Jesus, the Son, and God, the Father. 

I constantly remind myself what Jesus had to say about the Pharisees, who did everything for show, who wanted the praise of men, who wanted to be noticed for their great works.  "Everything they do is done for men to see.  They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long, they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplace and to have men call them Rabbi...for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."  (Matthew 23: 5,12)

When people thank me for going, I'm at a loss at exactly how to respond because in my eyes I'm doing nothing extraordinary.  God tells us to go, to do, to pray, to give.  He expects me to follow through and while I fall short in so many ways, this one thing I do joyfully and with no desire for praise.  In reality, the greatest thanks anyone could show me is to give to the cause.  Embrace the purpose of the mission, which is to show Jesus' love to kids, many who have no concept of what love is all about from any perspective, human or divine.  If you embrace the mission, you've shown me you appreciate what those of us who go to Pine Ridge are doing.

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