In my reading this morning, I came across an ancient directive: "The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done." Then I decided that I wanted to read the directive in the original context, so I went back to first mention of it and this is what I found:
"Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. Let them boast in this alone: That they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things."
Then I thought that maybe I need to think about what I'm speaking in proud terms about, even if I'm only speaking to myself. Some things that come to mind that I boast about are my husband (I really do think he's amazing and quite capable, and sometimes even better than other people's husbands), my own common sense or "wisdom", my ideals and abilities as a parent, the people I've known in the past and their "high" opinion of me, the way I've chosen to live my life, although not perfect, it has kept me safe from a lot of hardship, and the list goes on and on. I am not without the allusion that I am the one who has brought good things to my life.
But that's not true. Although I have wisdom and riches (and FYI, if you live in the United States, you have riches even if you think you're poor) and strength, my boasting is not to be in those things. I need to practice the discipline of boasting in the fact that I know the Lord. I need to be unashamed to speak proudly of my God and the things I have seen him accomplish. My voice should be lifted up to tell people that my God loves justice and goodness and unfailing love. He is a God who saves and redeems. He is a God who works the impossible and shows patience.
He is a God who has changed the generational lineage of my family from faithless to faithful. He has called my generation to himself and to His ministry. He has broken behaviors and habits and ugliness and continues to do so within my brothers and sister...and He will continue to do so in the coming generations (he promises that he would be with the generations of those who trust him for a thousand generations).
He is a God who has instilled justice in the hearts of many and has taught me right from wrong. He loves justice and mercy, and He wants his people to live in unfailing love instead of judgement and hatred.
My God has redeemed the sin of a family I know. He has brought beauty and salvation to their household and chosen them to show justice and love to an orphaned child. Only the one true God can work that kind of change from deep betrayal.
My God loves everyone. He is the originator of NO H8 (whether we are comfortable with that or not).
My God is the God who can work miracles...still today...whether I struggle to believe it or not.
My God protects me.
My God knew when we left New Orleans in 2006 that He would bring us back and continue to bring personal change to our lives. He is still changing us today and making us into the people He wants us to be.
He is beyond any good thing I could ever do. My "best" is like trash compared to what He is and is capable of.
My God has a plan for my life, for my family's life and for my children's lives. He is a faithful leader, a tender friend and a worthy confidant.
He is good and his love lasts forever.
And that isn't even tapping into all that is good and true about Him. I wish my mouth and mind were more open to speak His praises, and perhaps with practice, I'll become better at it. But for now, this is where I leave it.
I encourage you to think of the good things God has done. Let's stop thinking about ourselves and hat we've done or what we think we will do. Even if you don't have a "good" relationship with God, you can still give Him credit for something good. Anything good. After all, he is the giver of all good gifts.