Who caught my mistake last week?
If you did, give yourself a pat on the back, and be grateful for your VBS lessons!
I told the story of Zacchaeus in last week’s blog post. The problem was I called him Nicodemus (I’ve since edited it for the website). A couple of people sent emails to alert me of my mistake. I read, reread, had edits, and somehow never caught the error. I sent that blog out to all of you using the wrong name! I’ve taught Bible for a while now, and I have become too overconfident in my memory!
So, I had to smile when Trace, my friend and assistant at work, reminded me that the blog topic for the month of July was humility. My first thought was, “Well, I’m off to a good start!”
I’ve often said the best way to be right with God is to “claw your way to the bottom.” I’ve never enjoyed eating humble pie, but that is often the best take-out food for the Christian journey.
Why is that?
GPS MIGHT HAVE SAVED MY MARRIAGE
When Jim and I go on a vacation, I drive and he does the directions. But, that has only become our way of travel since the advent of the GPS. A lot of us are old enough to remember when a vacation required a map in order to get around. I still remember trying to figure out where we made the wrong turns.
I had a MAPSCO in both of our cars. When we moved from Midland, Texas, to Atlanta, Georgia, our family outings in the car used to worry our kids. We got lost every time.
Midland is flat, and all the streets are arranged to go North/South or East/West. Those streets were either numeric or in alphabetical order. We would occasionally get lost, but it was easy to find our way home. I don’t think Atlanta has a street that runs a straight line. The same street can begin in a northbound direction and then go east or west in just a few miles! And, there are huge trees all around that block whatever location you might have been looking for.
We would have had a better time in the car if GPS had been invented when we moved to Atlanta. Now, Jim is in charge of using his phone to provide our directions while I drive. The only time we have a problem is when I’m pretty sure the GPS (or Jim) is wrong.
And, I have made several U-turns of shame as a result! I’ve had a few “Zacchaeus/Nicodemus” moments behind the wheel.
The phone’s GPS isn’t perfect, but it is a lot more perfect than I am. Jim uses the GPS voice of a man with an English accent. I should have more respect, but I’ve nicknamed him “Dweebus.” Dweebus is the voice of direction in our car.
I wish I could recognize the voice of God in my life as easily as the voice of the GPS. I know the Spirit speaks, but too often I’m convinced I know where I’m going and don’t need the help. I need to humble myself and have total respect for that voice. I would make fewer wrong turns as a result.
Accurate advice is perfect advice even when it isn’t the way we most think we should go.
KING DAVID’S WISE COUNSEL
Our theme verse for the month of July comes from Psalm 27, a psalm of King David. When a king teaches the importance of humility, we should pay attention. Granted, David had some mistakes, but we all do. King David learned a lot about God, and those lessons enabled him to be one of the greatest heroes of the faith, “a man after God’s own heart.”
David’s lessons for humility:
- Know that Jehovah is God, and we are not. David wrote, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way” (Psalm 25:8). There is the Lord, and everyone else can fall into the category of “sinner.” Yet, because God is good and upright, he can point us to “the way.”
- God points the way, but only some will walk in it. David continued his psalm saying, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way” (Psalm 25:9). The only way to walk in “the way” is to walk in humility.
- God’s paths are “the way,” but only the obedient walk them. If we want to live a godly life, we have to allow God to chart our course. David said, “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies” (Psalm 25:10).
IF THE ADVICE IS GOD’S, IT’S GOOD
King David’s words are in Scripture because God wanted them to be known by all of us. We serve a God who is good and upright and wants to instruct us in the ways that are best for our earthly lives. So why does it seem like God is silent sometimes? Why do we struggle to know his will and his direction for our lives?
David tells us that God leads the humble and teaches the humble his way. The God we serve is also the One who created us in his image. God has a will and so do we. God waits for us to humble our own wills and submit them to his.
We are called to submit in humility because God knows what is best for us, all the time, for all time. If there is one thing I could shout to the world, it would be: “God’s laws have been right, forever—let’s not think the new ideas are somehow more evolved or accurate.”
We are not able to know everything and be perfectly good and upright like God. God wants what is best for our entire lives, which occasionally means it doesn’t feel like what is best for our moments.
David said that all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness. God never wants something for us that is wrong for us. That is why the Lord made certain we would have David’s wisdom, as well as countless others, in our Bibles. God leads the humble, those who keep his covenant and his testimonies, because they act in faithful humility instead of pride and self-sufficiency.
God’s advice is always good. In fact, God’s advice is always perfect. And those who humble their own ideas can discover God’s.
CLAW YOUR WAY TO THE BOTTOM
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10). James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote those words and they are in our Bibles today.
I’ve often said the “Janet Denison version” of that verse is, “Humble yourself, or God will do it for you—because he wants to exalt you—eventually.” That is why I often say, “Claw your way to the bottom, if you need to be lifted up.”
Human nature wants to reach the top rung of the ladder. We work hard, struggle in our own strength, and reach the highest rung possible—only to look over the fence and realize we didn’t really want to get where we have arrived. So we claw our way to the bottom and find Jesus waiting. He takes our hand and tells us, “So, I guess you figured out that you were leaning your ladder on the wrong wall? Let me show you the wall that will take you where you want to go.”
Let’s humble ourselves so God can lead us. His ladder is leaning on the wall of heaven. That’s the ladder that is worth the effort because perfection is on the other side.
King David and James both understood their need for humility, eventually. We will too.
In fact, why don’t we pray and make certain we are heading up the right ladder today? God’s GPS is trustworthy guidance for all those who will humble themselves and trust that he always knows the way.