Dr. Maya Angelou’s death coincided with the day of my graduation from law school. I considered her death on my convocation day to be my “wake up” call to use whatever gifts I have and share them with others, as well as to be courageously creative as she was courageously creative in her life. We all are beneficiaries of her courageous creativity and I, for one, am thankful. I had her poem “Still I Rise” taped to the wall of my room when I was growing up. I committed it to memory and recited it whenever I had the chance. She taught us why the caged bird sings and explained and embodied the composite of the phenomenal woman.
Aside from her writing, I also admire her for her humility.
When I watched Oprah’s Masterclass and Super Soul Sunday, I was struck by how humbled she was in her relationship with God:
Although we may both conceive of God differently, her humility is what stirred me. She is visibly affected by the knowledge that she is a child of God and that God made her. Tears run down her cheeks while reminiscing about the moment when she realized that God loves her. She expresses deep appreciation for the fact that God hears her.
It’s a humility that took me aback, and made me assess my response to the fact that God wants a relationship with me.
Too often we – I – take these truths for granted and gloss over these fundamental facts:
I am a child of God. God made me.
God loves me.
God hears me.
Heard over and over again, sometimes these profound statements lose their profundity. They become redundant instead of rousing. But they are no less significant than when they were uttered and written years ago.
I don’t think religion ought to be purely an emotional matter. But when the gravity of these words hit your ear and embed themselves in your heart, we ought to be stirred and not stoic.
“Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy if you think about it. The God of the universe — the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and e-minor — loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss.” — Francis Chan
Shouldn’t we be humbled or affected by God’s love?
When was the last time you sat in awe of the fact that God loves you? When was the last time that you expressed gratitude that God – the Maker of rivers and tears – has set aside time in His schedule of controlling the world to talk to you? Does it move you that He will give you His individual attention at the drop of the hat – yea, before you call He’s already answered and while you are speaking He has already heard?
Does the love of God and the fact that He hears you affect you this much? Are you amazed that He loves you — sinner that you are, sinner that we are?
A while ago I was taught a formula for effective prayer: ACTS. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.
Admittedly, when I pray, I often forget the adoration part and skip right to the supplication part, but I do that to my own detriment. We are not only to adore God because He is worthy of all praise or in a vain attempt to appease Him. I’ve come to realize that when I start my prayers with adoration, it reminds me of the person to whom I am speaking. I’m not just talking to some random Friend or a blood-and-flesh person like me — I’m talking to the Creator of everything. I’m talking to the One who has all power. I kneel before the One who knows me best and loves me most. When I give myself a moment to be in awe of the fact that He is sovereign and that He is Ruler, then my supplication changes. My adoration modifies my supplication. All of a sudden, I make my supplication in the context of and in response to my adoration. It becomes easier to ask for big things when I’ve already reminded myself that I serve a big God. I can ask for the impossible because I’ve previously established that He’s a God who can do the impossible.
Just like in any long term romantic relationship, unless you actively remind yourself of how wonderful your partner (or our Partner, in this case) is and unless you actively cultivate excitement, things have a tendency to get stale and you start to get bored and fazed and jaded in your relationship, taking the greatest acts of love for granted. The key to continuously loving someone is the ability to continuously to be amazed, to continually look at your partner in wonder.
Does the thought of Him loving you give you butterflies? Do you get all woozy and emotional when you remember He loves you?
I don’t always. But I think may need to.
I need to because the sight of a text message from a crush gives me more excitement than the thought that God loves me. I need to because I get warm fuzzies over the thought of the potential that some random man might love me when this Man already does and loves me more than anyone ever could.
I am reminded that an audience with the King of Kings is a privilege; not a right.
If I got an invitation to have a private audience with H.R.M. Queen Elizabeth II, I would not take it lightly. Why then do I treat an audience with Jesus so cursorily and casually?
Hearing Maya Angelou has made me realize that I am somewhat arrogant in my prayer life.
I act like God has to hear me when the fact of the matter is He doesn’t even have to listen.
I pray as if God is lucky I’m still talking to Him, when in fact I’m lucky that He still talks to and hears me.
He listens because He loves me. He is so into me that the hairs on my head are numbered. According to TD Jakes, “That means that not only does He know how many there are –He knows which one fell out.”
That’s amazing. He’s amazing. And in the busyness of life, I will try not to forget to sit in awe of Him and be amazed. And humbled.
Photo Credit: Oprah Presents Masterclass with Maya Angelou