Monday, December 18, 2006

humility

Coming towards the end of a year, my first instinct is to look back. One thought rings loud as Christmas bells rattling between my ears. Here it is….my philosophy for the year. We’re not as strong as we think we are. I’ve been reminded of that repeatedly this past year. Two relief trips to New Orleans, friends dealing with cancer, a wife with serious back issues, teenage lapses in judgment, a season of flooding, and now the latest and greatest of storms will tend to do that to a person with any type of balanced reality. To be honest, its not been the event itself as much as the attitude that surrounded it this past year that has helped me appreciate our truly humbling existence. It seems almost as though I can’t pick up a paper or turn on a news broadcast without witnessing us failing miserably in our attempt to overcome our human limitations. Only half way into December and it seems as if more people have been reported lost in the snow than during the days of the Oregon trail. A staggering number of them have not ended well.
It may be that we’re fastly approaching the “tower of babel” stage again in human history where we feel that we are so close to a god state in our human achievement that we have this expectancy of long, safe and secure lives. Whatever your take on the words preserved for us in the bible, you can’t argue with the wisdom of passages such as is found in James where we are asked why we make plans to do anything far out into the future when we don’t even know where that future may lie. In other areas we are encouraged not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough stuff of its own. Who of us living anywhere in society don’t already realize that truth. I happen to think that the words are true wisdom because they come from the source of true wisdom. The writer knows our limitations because he created us. They ring true in our hearts because they are true. Truth is what it is regardless of your view of the source. And truth is bore out and proven according to the results observed. Be honest, have you observed these things to be true or not?
Have you observed bad things happening to good people? Have you observed good things happening to bad people? Have you observed justice….injustice….consequence? Have you seen grace given? Have you seen people who claim to believe one thing live totally opposite to their claims? It’s all in there. Have you seen goodness and evil? It’s all in there. Have you tried your absolute hardest and been soundly defeated by forces beyond your control? It’s all in there.
Humility is a healthy thing. It’s freeing and liberating and honest. It only makes sense to me that as I read these things and understand them to be universal truths, that a parallel and undeniable thread woven alongside is the need to live life humbly. We’re not as strong as we think we are. Our creator knew that even as we were created. In the midst of that is His answer comes in the form of humility. It’s a baby, born in a manger, in an obscure backwoods town to a regular Joe and Mary. The same book, the one that tells me about all the limitations and trials and victories, also tells me that this sign of humility was born to save us from our limitations, also referred to as sin. It’s not a popular concept in the circles that I travel in these days. It shouldn’t be so offensive. The true definition of sin is “missing the mark” and who of us could claim that we haven’t “missed the mark” this year. Truth is truth, regardless of your feelings about the source.
If you’re still reading this, then I’ll offer my Christmas wish for you this year. Look around you and tell me whether or not we are as strong as we think we are. How well have our answers faired this year. How much has our technology, our government, or our intellect succeeded in guiding us all safely through the journey. Still unconvinced? Find for me another source of “truth” that so honestly and thoroughly describes the true human condition. Then look at the baby wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger, and ask yourself “Could it be true?”. Does the author of this story truly know my limitations, and if so, could He then also know the solution? I’ll warn you ahead of time. It’s going to take a bit of humility.

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