I don’t know about you, but every now and then I have a tendency to overestimate my own importance, to somehow begin to believe that I am essential to things going well in the world. It makes me unwilling (or unable) to stop and take a breath because “if I don’t do it, who else will?” It is a skewed and flawed perspective to say the least. For when we operate out of our own need, rather than out of God’s deep desire, we are not really loving people at all, but merely manipulating them. They become pawns (objects) in our pathetic quest for self-importance.
The truth is that I am a non-essential in the grand scheme of things. God doesn’t need me at all. In fact, God doesn’t need any of us. God uses us not because he needs us, but because he loves us. He uses us because it gives us, and him, pleasure. And when we finally begin to realize that, we are finally able to be of real service to the kingdom; for then it has stopped being about us and started being about him. In fact, as the voice of Jesus so beautifully reminded us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, it is actually through our weakness and powerlessness that his strength and power are most fully on display.
I think that’s why praying this ancient prayer (Psalm 131) is so very important. It reorients us. It keeps our hearts from becoming too high (gabahh in Hebrew) and our eyes from being too lofty (ruwm). It keeps us from thinking more of ourselves than we should. It helps us to get over ourselves a little bit. It keeps us from getting too obsessed with our own little contribution to what God is doing in his great big world. It keeps things in perspective.
When we are finally able to honestly pray this prayer, we are finally to the point of being really useful to God, because it has become about him once again and not about us. For ironically, if it doesn’t have to be me, then it actually can be me.