A couple of week's ago my pastor spoke about humility - a very good sermon - but an even more practical life lesson we all need to embrace. Don't get me wrong - I am not there yet, either! Pride is the number one problem in this world - it keeps us from asking for help, as Pastor Chad so aptly pointed out. Yet, when we ask for help, it might just be the places or people we go to in seeking this help which makes all the difference in whether we receive the help we so desperately need. So many times we turn to some self-help series of teachings, or some teacher who will tickle our ears without pricking our heart. Both are worthless - for self cannot help self and until the heart is deeply touched we will remain the same as before!
God opposes everyone who is proud, but he is kind to everyone who is humble. (James 4:6 CEV)
Be humble in the Lord’s presence, and he will honor you. (James 4:10 CEV)
The most important definition of humility is the willingness to not pretend any longer. I have spoken of this before, but it bears repeating because this is a life lesson we take a while to learn. Why? We take a while to build up the "trust mechanism" which actually lets us take off the many things we hide behind. For some of us, it is our title or label. We are the President and CEO of XYZ company - a title we could hide behind pretty well unless the company was being indicted for fraud of some kind. We are the successful award-winning athlete - a label we could hide behind until the world finds out we have been performance-enhancing steroids to get an edge over our opponent. We hide well behind things, until the "you know what" hits the proverbial fan! Then it all unravels for us - right?
Wouldn't it be better to remind ourselves of who it is we were created to be in the first place - sons and daughters of the Most High God. As sons and daughters, we enjoy the privilege of belonging to a family which values "reality", but also provides a way for the not so pleasant part of our lives to be healed. I think we are often afraid to be real because we have some pretty wounded parts which we keep cleverly under wraps for no one to actually see. If you have read my blog for a while you know I call these our secret sins - the parts of our lives we know are not "right", but which we cannot seem to break free from. One of the things Pastor Chad said this weekend resonated clearly with me - we cannot be free from what holds us back until we are willing to ask for help. What might not have been said is that until we let go of the comfort of our hiding places we won't be free!
Hiding places are kind of dark places, though. If you ever played the little game of hide and seek as a kid, you know you found secret places like the space under the bed, the back of a closet, or maybe even behind the couch. Why? You didn't think anyone would look there! The same is true of the stuff we keep bottled up and under wraps in our lives - the stuff we feel a little ashamed of and just cannot seem to break free of the influence it exerts over us. The place we hide this "stuff" is pretty dark - the place we think nobody will look. No matter how well we "hide" it, WE will always know it is there! WE will always be on the lookout for somebody else to discover our hiding place! WE will always want to hold at arm's length anyone who even remotely looks like they are drawing close to discovering this place!
This is probably the worst thing we can do if we want to be free of it, though. For in pulling back, hiding things deeper, and removing ourselves from any relationship which comes "too close" to discovering our true "self", we are never going to be free of whatever holds us in bondage. Maybe this is what we want because our bondage has become our identity. I must challenge you on this one, though! Your bondage is the very thing Christ died for - because you were not to assume that identity but rather the identity of a son or daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! You and I have accepted identities we really were not created to assume! Until we lay them down, admitting we cannot break free of them alone, we will always succumb to the urge to pull away and avoid their discovery.
Truth sets us free. It takes trust to reveal truth, though. Trust is only found at the foot of the cross. We need each other - so we turn to others who have discovered the truth of grace because we know they will be kind with what it is we reveal to them. We know they will not trifle with grace, but will extend it in the measure it has been extended to them. This is the thing about grace - it multiplies the more it is embraced! Humility is being willing to be real - grace is the common ground upon which ALL of us find release from the things we have buried in those dark places, my friends. Just sayin!