The Cat’s Meow
I tossed a couple of prunes on my breakfast cereal and poured my morning coffee while pondering today’s blog topic. I wanted to discuss the apparent tension between the ideas of approaching God in humility vs approaching God with boldness. Gathering my comestibles I settled in to my corner on the living room sofa and set to work.
Toward the end of his 1st epistle Peter paraphrases Solomon “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble,” then adds “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand...” (1 Pet. 5:6). James cites the same passage and adds words almost identical: “Humble yourselves before the Lord…” (James 4:6, 10).
Monday and Tuesday this week we looked at Hebrews 4:16 and the command to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,” or as the King James puts it, “come boldly unto the throne of grace…” Paul writes something similar in Ephesians 3:12: “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (NIV), or, “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence.” (KJV)
About this time our cat, “Molly,” hopped up, beside me on the couch as she typically does and set to meowing. “Not now,” I said as I do most such typical mornings. “Meow,” she said rubbing the back of her head along my thigh. “Just wait,” I said. I knew what she wanted: an extended behind the ears scratch that would set her a-purring but also start her fur a-flying, floating over my raisin bran, glomming onto my tablet, and sticking under my fingernails. “Later,” I said, and returned to my work.
Then, as she typically does, slowly, cautiously, she lifted one paw and ever so gently moved it forward and with just a ‘hint’ of exposed claw stroked my leg. Her look and action remind me of that scene in Oliver Twist, “Please sir, can we have more?”
I looked up these words boldness, and humility.
Boldness παῤῥησία (parrhēsia) carries with it the sense of freedom in speaking, unreservedness — a fearless confidence, a cheerful courage. In English some synonyms for boldness are “bravery,” “courage,” “determination.” Antonyms are “cowardice,” “timidity,” “fear.”
Humility seems often to be defined by the absence of its opposite: not prideful, not vain. It carried with it the idea of modesty, meekness — a respect, I suppose of authorities.
I recalled Pastor Andrew’s illustration of Esther and her approach to the king at risk of her life. A good example, but I wanted something more common, more everyman… hmm.
“Meow,” said Molly, just a little more insistently. I looked at her, and she looked at me…. “meow,” she said a bit more timidly. I knew she wasn’t going to give up. She had come to me because she knew I was the one who could help her, and she stayed with it because she had learned that persistence brings results. How humbly she stared at me, how boldly she had persevered. Hmmm…
P. S. Yeah, I put down my coffee, cereal, tablet and gave the girl a good, long behind the ears scratch.
To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Feb. 9 message.