No. 11 Walk humbly with your God
The Old Testament prophet Micah summed up the requirements for peace in its fullness this way: act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8, Jerusalem Bible).
All of us, whether we believe in God or not, carry within our hearts the divine spark. So whether we consciously adhere to a religion or not, we can relate to the first two, because they speak to our common humanity, urging us to set our sights on nobler, unselfish values and actions: on fair play, compassion, kindness, mercy and love; values that prompt us to reach out to others, including and beyond our immediate circle of family and friends, and ultimately to all human beings, all life on earth and the planet itself.
But what about the third? Is it not the neglected dimension and condition, so lacking in our world today? Where we fail to walk humbly with the Lord God, are not our vision and ability to live out the first two of the Micahian injunctions compromised?
Despite the de facto atheism that laces modern society, a largely silent or overlooked majority continues to recognise that God exists. Our question in the context of this page, is how deep or otherwise is our understanding and appreciation of the Divine Reality of realities? What sort of faith and trust in God do we have? How sincere is our relationship with the One Who brought us into being, Who loves us beyond measure, and Who is our destiny? True, many of us acknowledge the goodness and mercy of God and seek Him and His help in our lives. But could we and should we try to do better, and want to discover and to do His will in all things? For, despite our fervent rhetoric and prayer, do we not accord our own wishes, likes and preferences a higher priority, placing them ahead of His voice and will for us? In short, do we walk humbly with our God? If not, what is it that gets in the way?
You’ve guessed it! Yes, ‘my’ undisciplined selfish self is the problem. Because of it, ‘I’ want to have my way in most things, most of the time, and tend to get frustrated and worse if I don’t. My selfish self, in its vanity, pride, greed and sloth, is the bane of my relationship with God and with others. And I do not seem to realise it. In all this ‘I’ am subtly egged on by the devil. Not to succumb to his machinations and my weakness, requires prayer and reflection, purpose and determination, struggle and sacrifice: an interior battle, to be fought in silence. But how often do we not capitulate, opting for the narcotic of surrender and its concomitant slavery? Without doubt we need God’s help, and perhaps, a few home truths from someone whom we trust, to make us aware of our complacency and limitations.
The Eternal Law
(One of the scribes asked Jesus) ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one, only Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.'(Mark 12: 28 -30, Deuteronomy 6:4-6. New Jerusalem Bible)
Why opt for the Divine will?
Self interest? Security for the hereafter? Realisation that there’s nothing better? Gratitude and love? The answer is simple. Yes, God is love, and loves us and waits for our love in return. Sounds too overwhelming to be true? Even foolish and naive? Maybe. But then, this is the Good News of Jesus who tells us, ‘As the Father loves me, I love you. Abide in my love.’ (John 15:9 RSV).
All of us are at various stages of life’s journey, one that must be undertaken in this life and finalised either in this life or in the afterlife. The challenges and blessings of this our fundamental vocation are lifelong. But the divine invitation is always there and rich in the promise of God’s grace. However, to many, deliciously or hopelessly embroiled in the things of earth, the call is often inaudible or easy to ignore amid the cacophany of a world of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) and the babble of self?
A Practical Approach
For those who wish to do the will of God in all things, an unambiguous rule of thumb is available, For this we would need to put all pussy-footing and self-justification aside. ‘I’ must recognise that
1. My fidelity to the Lord God has to be unilateral. It must not depend on what others say, do or think.
2. In many matters, major and minor, there is a choice that ‘I’ have to make; from day to day, and from moment to moment; an option to be exercised. ‘Lord, I have to decide between me and Thee; between my way and Thy way. Christ Jesus be my light, my truth, and my way. Should I waver or fall, in your love and mercy raise me up.’
“My God, I love Thee – ‘ though there were no heaven for me to win, no hell to punish those who dare against Thy love to sin.
Upon the cross, thy wide embrace made me, dear Lord, thy own; the nails, the spear, the long disgrace for me should all atone.
That night of fear, those hours of pain, those bitter griefs of Thine, that death itself was borne, to gain a sinner’s love – ’twas mine.
And shall the fear of hell below or hope of heaven above be all the reason heart can know this loving Lord to love?
That love that asks not anything, love like Thy own love free, Jesus, I give, who art my King, who art my God, to Thee.” (Divine Office – Holy Saturday, Hymn at Evening Prayer)