Yesterday I picked up an old book on my shelf, Let Go, by François Fénelon, a collection of letters he’d written, and browsed through it a little. Glancing through some of the sections I’d underlined years ago, I came upon this counsel he’d given to a friend: “…love humility, obscurity, weakness, and submission. These things, so despised by the world, are the accomplished teachers of all truth.”
Hmmm. Teachers they are? (As Yoda might say.)
Then I thought about it.
Humility — teaches me I don’t know everything. Nor will I ever. I may think I know a lot, but humility has taught me to always continue learning. Like adapting to new technology. Gone, for me, are the days of simply playing a piano at church; now we have a shiny red expensive keyboard with a ga-zillion knobs, dials, and slides that will do basically anything you want it to. Humility keeps me teachable, even to a younger generation.
Obscurity — reveals my pride and arrogance and the need to be seen. When I’m hurt because no one acknowledges me or what I did, God reminds me that my value and importance doesn’t come from others, but from Him. It’s a true heart check. Is He alone seeing me enough or am I looking for (or even needing) something from someone else? Obscurity keeps me hidden under His wing, anonymous to the world.
Weakness — exposes my fears and flaws. In this world, weakness is regarded as a negative, something to be ashamed of, ridiculed for. Being weak makes me feel powerless and afraid. Most of us want to be seen as strong, yet, if it’s only my strength, it has limits. When I’m caring for my elderly mother, it can be demanding and difficult emotionally and physically, draining my might and patience. But Father God is the Almighty One, full of power and glory; and in acknowledging my weakness, it allows Him to be strong in me. (2 Cor.12:9) Weakness keeps me reliant upon God, not myself.
Submission — uncovers my control issues. I mean, who really likes to be bossed around? But it’s not about forcing or dominating people or even circumstances. It’s about authority. I’ve tried to manage my life on my own, and I just go into debt, stay angry, and loose all peace and serenity. Traffic will drive me crazy, printers will refuse to work correctly, and toilets will stop up — all things I can’t control. Yet, when I submit to His oversight and remember that all things in life work together for my good (Rom.8:28), then I can relax, take a deep breath, regain my composure and continue on. Submission keeps me under His authority and protection.
So I think Fénelon got it right. These four things are great teachers of truths, though I’m still in the learning process. How about you? Had any good lessons lately?