Posts Tagged ‘proud man’

Humility is a virtue much esteemed by God.  James 4:6 tells us that : “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  The problem with humility is that it leaves no room for selfishness, self-centeredness, and pride – traits that are natural and easy.  Humility is an essential virtue for us to live in right relation with God and with our fellow-man.  Jesus summed up the law in two love commandments.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.”  An inordinate self-love is an obstacle to this all out love for God and others.  Interestingly, as we grow to love God and others more we come to the place where we see ourselves as God sees us.  We develop an appropriate love for ourselves which is not based upon some caricature the world, the flesh, or the devil tries to get us to accept. 

I have a true story that illustrates how the process of humility can be worked out.  I am in my early 50’s now.  A few years ago as I was nearing 50 I took my wife, our then 15-year-old son and a friend of his to Table Rock mountain for a day of hiking.  We set out to summit the mountain about noon.  The sign at the bottom indicated that we needed 5 hours for the hike.  Since it was early spring we could do it, but we would be getting down back to the parking area pretty close to dark.  I told the boys that we might have to hurry at times which to them sounded like fun.  My wife chose not to climb the mountain with us.  Something about the look in my eye when I said we might have to hurry discouraged her participation.

I took my nice digital SLR camera because I enjoy photography.  Up the trail we went.  The boys took me literally as we alternately jogged and walked our way to the top of the mountain.  The view from the top was spectacular and we stayed  close to an hour taking pictures and eating lunch.  When we started back down the boys again slipped into “hurry mode” and began jogging and hiking.  Actually it was more of a run than a jog.  As the boys picked up speed and added distance between us I was forced to run to keep up.  On at least three occasions as I was running, holding my fairly large camera to keep it safe, the thought ran through my head… “I’ve still got it… I can still move great… Dan’s still the man!”  I distinctly remember thinking this as I bounded from the top of one boulder to another boulder to another.  And for each of those three times the verse from the Old Testament would quickly follow in a gentle whisper – “Pride goes before the fall.”  Now I have to admit something here that I have not mentioned in the numerous renditions of this story with my family.  Each of those times I slowed down.  Not because I was truly worried about myself, but because I thought of the possible damage I would do to my camera. 

About halfway down the mountain the boys started to get some separation from me… and that bothered me.  At one point a couple of young girls – about 11 – 13 years old I guessed stepped into the trail in front of me and started walking slowly down the mountain chatting about boys and such.  Did I mentioned how ssslllooowwwllllyyyyyy they were walking?  While I could hear the boys at first the sound of their noisy dash down the mountain grew fainter and fainter.  And I was growing more and more impatient.  Finally my chance came as the trail split around a tree.  As the girls took the left side of the tree I accelerated to pass them on the right side.  I thought I would be polite and say, “Girls, I’m passing on the right”, but all I got out was “Gir…” as my toe hooked a rock and I started into my fall.  You know how people describe a traumatic experience where everything goes into slow motion.  Well the fall was kind of like that.  I realized that I was taking a tumble and there was no way I was going to get my feet under me.  I thought of my camera, I thought of how silly I must look, I thought “why am I running down a mountain?”  

For a moment I was tumbling and suddenly I was stopped in a pile of numbness on the ground.  I remember slowly standing up and feeling the buzz of adrenalin.  My first thought was my camera… did I break it?  I knew that my immediate reaction as I began to fall was to pull it in and protect it with my body.  As I am inspecting my camera the girls had come up.  “Mister are you awright?”  “Mister can we hep you?”  “Are you OK, mister?”  A quick inventory told me my camera was probably okay.  The fact that I was now standing told me that the pain in my leg was probably not a broken bone although it was a huge Charley horse.  The girls pointed out that I had broken something – my nice Costa Del Mar sunglasses that were hanging crookedly across my face.  “Mister can we do anything for ya?”  To which I replied, “Yeah, please call those boys and ask them to come back.” 

As I continued to take an inventory of where I hurt, I heard one of the girls walk over to the edge where the mountain drops steeply down and yell, “Yo, Yo Dogs – The OLD Guy Needs You!”  So if the fall, the broken glasses, and the multiple pains were not bad enough, then the OLD Guy phrase really made an excellent point of the whole Pride is Not My Friend message of the day.  But things were not over.  The boys came, helped me get going and them promptly headed down the mountain at a rapid pass again.  There was no more running down the mountain for me.  Actually there was barely limping down the mountain.

Now I have a running line that I share with people that I once prayed for humility and the next day I met my future wife.  It is a joke that brings a chuckle on most occasions.  Lisa is a bright woman the Lord has used greatly to help mold and shape my life.  On this particular day it appeared that God really wanted to drive the whole Pride is a Bad Thing point home with forcefulness.  As I hobbled up to the car Lisa was in the passenger seat.  I came up to her side and asked if she could drive.   Her chuckle became all out laughter as the boys shared the story with her.  And the story has become one of the family favorites when we get together.  Lisa’s friend in Louisiana always refers to me as “the OLD guy” now, never my real name.  Oh well, I am sure the reminder is a positive thing even if I do come out looking silly.

My father had a heart attack in his early 50″s.  I remember his first words to me as I walking into the hospital CICU room with him connected to various monitors and IV’s.  “Son, I am so glad the Lord will do whatever it takes to get my attention.”  Today, I have to echo that sentiment.  I wish I learned my lessons simply by reading about them, but sometimes it takes more.  Our Father knew that and He provided a lesson in humility for me that continues to resonate to this day.  Thank You Lord for all You have done, even when it hurts!

Have a blessed day and be a blessing!

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I had a bit of a strange dream last night. I was with the soldiers that captured the mansion where Saddam Hussein resided. But instead of his escaping to hideout for several months as happened in real life, he was there and we captured him. He was a broken man, defeated and powerless in the face of the strength of the righteous army that had swept in and broken his tyrannical dictatorship. We left him and quickly moved through the house providing humanitarian aid and help to the wounded, broken, and naked people throughout the house. Although I am not sure why it seems important at this time, one of my main tasks was to find weapons and destroy them and find clothes for people to put on. It seemed that more than half the people were either without clothes or dressed in rags.

I do not remember fighting perse, but I do remember being dressed and equipped as a fighter. My main mission, and I was the leader, was to help people. After removing all the weapons we could find and getting people stabilized and dressed we began talking with them. Many were cautiously appreciative, others told stories of terrible abuse and mistreatment, but a few appeared to be as in a trance. I remembered that we had left Saddam in a room upstairs so I went to get him and bring him down and take him away. As I slipped in the room from one direction I caught sight of him leaving the room from a door on the other side. Somehow while we were gone he had cleaned up, dressed in a fresh uniform, and amazingly appeared 20 years younger – a vital, strong, proud man. I watched with horror as he marched down the stairs and began to interact with the people we had recently liberated. Various reactions from terror to disbelief to adulation were recorded. The young Saddam for his part did not seem to have a recollection of being recently captured or deposed, but he knew clearly that HE was in charge. I realized at that point what a huge mistake we had made in treating him kindly and underestimating his power.

As this thought came to me my alarm went off. As I awoke my first thought was, “That is how we often deal with sin in our lives. We push it aside saying it is defeated and get busy with other things only to have it rear its ugly head strengthened and more entrenched the next time.”

The scripture for this morning is from Ephesians 6:10 – 12.  “Finally be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

In my dream I made a huge tactical mistake.  As a fighting unit we correctly pinpointed and subdued the leader of the opposition.  But we did not deal with him in a way that totally eliminated the threat, we did not take away his ability to come at us again.  I mentioned above that I my main mission was to help people.  I was eager to get to the part of giving aid but that was compromised by my failure to address the most pressing threat to their long-term safety.

Many who call themselves Christians struggle with achieving the abundant life that Jesus offers.  One of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, is because they fail to deal with sin in their life.  I know that the early days of my walk were full of identifying and casting off habits and attitudes that the Holy Spirit showed me were sinful.  But even today closing in on 29 years later, I still have to be attentive to the Holy Spirit as He points out areas where my heart can be lured away to sin.  Two situations last night came up that could very easily be traps for me.  Yet this morning I know that I must decisively deal with the potential sin in my heart so I can wisely deal with the situations at hand.

For those reading this who may not be of the faith or perhaps you are a new Christian, let me take just a moment to put things into perspective.  God dealt with the ultimate consequence of sin – separation from God, through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross.  God who is holy could not allow sin to reside with Him.  God who is just said the penalty for sin was death and separation from God.  God who is love said He would pay the penalty in our place.  He sent His son Jesus to stand in our place when the judgement for sin was carried out.  Jesus was the only person who has ever lived who was without sin.  For this reason His sacrifice is able to cleanse us all from all unrighteousness.  God’s only requirement is that we come to Him in faith accepting Jesus sacrifice on our behalf and making Him Lord of our life.

These two steps capture the essence of what it is to be a believer.  And following these two steps will result in abundant life.  Not a pain-free or challenge free life, but an abundant life.  Let me say that making Jesus Lord of your life is all encompassing.  One of the primary tasks we must undertake is to identify and deal with sin in us whenever and wherever we find it.  Sin left unchecked will prevent access to the abundant life Jesus offers.  It will ruin our witness for Christ.  It will hurt us and those around us.  And Jesus wants to help us deal with it, but we must respond to Him with faith in action.  When He points out sin in our life, or we come to a situation where the potential for sin exists, we must act decisively by saying NO to sin and yes to grace, truth, and love.  Temptations will come, but God who conquered death, hell and the grave is more than able to help us say No to every temptation if we put our trust in Him.

Have a blessed day!

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