Humility at the Table of Grace
by Susie Larson
When I was a fairly new Christian, I got involved in a young-adults group at my local church. I didn’t comfortably know my way around the church building, church politics, or even church lingo for that matter, and though my heart felt drawn to and at home among Christians, my soul felt unsure and out of place at times. I’d watch the worship team on stage and marvel at how comfortable they were with the spotlight and with the lyrics. I imagined they were some of God’s favorites because they were so good at what they did and they seemed so established in their faith.
I, on the other hand, still had rough edges around my personality. I learned quickly that the playground in elementary school isn’t the only place where social hierarchy exists.
Feeling insecure and out of place on a regular basis, I sometimes lingered in the back rows when our large Sunday school class gathered each week. One day in the back row, I met a man who was a tad older than the rest of us. He was humble, gentle and reverent when it came to the things of God.
More than once, while leaning forward to take notes on what our speaker had to say that day, I heard a soft mumble coming from my friend beside me. I’d look over and find him with his head bowed, hands folded, and praying under his breath. Then he’d look up, listen for a bit, and then pray some more.
He wasn’t well-known in the group. And he was quite easy to miss. But whenever I asked him questions, he smiled at me sweetly, like he enjoyed and appreciated my hunger to learn. He never made me feel inferior or substandard as a Christian. And his insights always compelled me to look up.
Once, during the busy time before service when the more visible leaders in our group were bustling about with mic checks and worship practice, God turned my heart to my praying friend. Hidden in the shadows of the chapel with his Bible in his lap and his hands open to heaven, he reverently bowed his head. I knew he was praying for every soul in the room, that we’d all encounter God, and leave the sanctuary that evening with hearts more filled with love of Him than when we had taken our places in the pews. I felt a new and holy fear of God settle into my soul.
In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells the story of two men who stood in the synagogue to pray. One was well-esteemed in the community, a leader of the faith. His prayers were lofty, elegant, and offered for all to hear. The other was a poor sinner, who stood in the shadows and prayed simply, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus shocked his listeners by telling them that of the two men, it was the sinner in the shadows who left the synagogue at peace with God. Why? Because his prayer was offered in humility.
The point is, we must never stop relying on God’s goodness. He is the One who paid for our place at the table of grace. It is only in humility that we are able to partake of the feast.
Susie Larson is a popular radio show talk host, national speaker and author. Her latest book is Your Powerful Prayers. More at www.SusieLarson.com.
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