Friday, December 28, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Newspaper Readers

As the end of 2012 nears, I close by sharing Jeremy Taylor’s (1613-1667) nineteenth tip for humble living. I am also saying goodbye to all dear readers of this column. First, let’s consider Taylor’s final guideline for seeking humility.
            Taylor says, “Humility teaches us to submit ourselves and all our faculties to God.” He asks followers to recall the previous eighteen rules for humble living, and he encourages seekers of humility to adore God, submit to superiors “in all things, according to godliness, and to be meek and gentle in conversations toward others.”
            Because I’ve written fifty-two columns on humble living, I now have more knowledge about humility. Attaining humility is difficult, so God and I continue to move my stubborn will into better habits of humble living. The thing that most stood out in my study this year was author Randy Harris’ suggestion that whenever we walk into any rooms to consider ourselves the least in the room. Then to ask a mental question, “Who may I serve?” That’s powerful.
           Two special scriptures about humility took up residence in my heart. They contain both directives and a promise from our gracious Father: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3), and “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). I know without doubt that as we honor God and others, God meets our needs.
            This will be my last column. After eleven years plus a few months, I find that the time has come to close out this phase of writing. Several family needs brought me to this decision, as well as offers to write for other venues. I can’t do it all. Even though I would love to write day and night, home duties call, and my dishes have not learned to wash themselves.
            First, thank you to “The Courier,” to Jim Fredricks, Andy Dubois, Bob Borders, Nancy Flake, Mike Jones, and Sondra Hernandez, who have guided, edited, and headlined. Some of you are no longer with “The Courier,” sort of ghosts of columns past. However, each of you shined your skills on my writing making it better. Any grammar mistakes were mine. I seem to be the queen of split infinitives. I’m indebted to Jim Fredricks for taking a chance on a very green writer in the summer of 2001 when I phoned and asked if I could write a column. I especially thank “Houston Community Newspapers” affiliate editors for publishing some of the columns.  
            Thank you, readers. Many of you have let me know through phone calls, emails, or in person when a certain column encouraged you at just the right moment. You have gently let me know when I made a scripture stumble, by misusing or misapplying. Sometimes, I had general information wrong, such as the time I mistakenly said morning glories have tendrils. A kindhearted horticulturist from Huntsville sent an email. We are friends to this day. I’ve grown because of the knowledge many of you shared with me.
           I also treasure those of you who introduced yourselves in aisles of stores or in restaurants. A few of you, when I pushed my cart by, got that I-know-her look on your faces. When you braved asking who I was, you gave me hugs, handshakes, and personal thank yous for the columns. You were wonderful, and your enthusiasm and appreciation kept me writing.
            I apologize for any preachiness, poor writing, and hurried writing of columns. I’ve done all three at times. When I began this column, my mission was to help readers love God because he first loved us. By faith, I knew that God could multiply any seeds of information about him. I trusted God to take the messages and use them any way he wanted. Readers, you have mailed them to prisoners, relatives, and even government officials. You told me you have them on your refrigerators and tucked in your Bibles. Aren’t you wonderful to receive and to pass on messages about God?
            “Goodbye” comes from the 1570’s word “godbwye,” a contraction of “God be with ye.” Today, I reach back several hundred years and borrow that sentiment: May God bless your journey. May God carry out the plans he has for you. May God be with you.
                  Hunger for Humility (Week 52): “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

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