The Christian Life, a Study in Humility
April 6, 2009, 18:01
Filed under: History, roots of Willohroots, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

humbledmanDoes humility come easy to any of you?  If so you have my respect and God forgive me,  envy.  Don’t worry , I will get rid of the envy by leaving it at the foot of the cross, and repent, but I could not deny it without false testimony.  Humility has NOT come easy to me.  I always wanted to be the “….est” at something.  Smartest,  coolest, toughest, quickest, some measure of outstanding achievement or performance.  It may have been a result of being the youngest [there it is again], smallest[oh boy], fattest [no brag there], kid in my class.   Reasons and rationalizations aside, I sought niches in which to excel.  I wish I could tell you that this was channeled into socially acceptable, God honoring categories that led me to be a leader of industry and achievement, but that would be going back to the whole false testimony thing.  A lot of the niches I wanted to be captain of were down right sinful. God takes His servants from some odd backgrounds.  I rejoice that Moses was a stuttering murderer.  I am given much hope in the Saul part of Paul’s life.  Abraham’s failures allow me to more readily call myself a servant of the Most High, this is a group whose qualifications are not based on the individual, but on the Holy God who used them.  When Noah went on a bender after doing all the right things he showed a humanity I can relate to, perhaps all too well, a lack of perfection that only goes to illuminate God by the contrast of His light to our dark.

God does not often use the prideful servant.  The Holy Spirit fills the empty vessel, not the one filled with pride of self.  Jesus called us not to lead, but to follow.  Since from birth we are self minded, God must send people and instances and the Holy Spirit to act on us as Nathan acted on David.  “You are that man”, experiences are horrible to go through, but iron is heated, beaten and quenched to be made into a tool.  If we offer God the ore of our basic existence, should we not expect to be refined?  We can trust that His expert hand will not strike harder than we can bear, nor will He withhold the fire until the dross is skimmed away. God has caused or allowed many humbling experiences to come into my life;  He has placed me in situations where I have been helpless, looked foolish, and/or  had no hope except His mercy.  Looking back these were times to praise Him,  even though at the time of occurrence they seemed cruel, or at best humorous. I would like to share a few of these moments, for I am sure they will make you feel better about your humbling experiences.  We all know that pathos is when you trip over a rake in the yard, comedy is when your neighbor does it. Allow me to be your neighbor and have a good natured laugh at some of these situations,  I assure you that neither the neighbor nor I were permanently injured by these events.

On a scorching August day we were called to a ” assist the civilian”  while Hanging around at the Fire House.  The temp was bumping 100 degrees, and most of us were in shorts and tshirts.  The  Hermit had found a dead animal in  his well and wanted us to pump  out and chlorinate the cistern.  A marvelous opportunity to train the new guys , girls, and juniors in the operation of a portable pump.   I took the squad truck and about seven “newbies” and off we went to serve the community.  We set up next to the well with a 300 gpm portable pump and two lengths of suction , with no hose needed as we would just blow the water out of the pump and out of the way.  Everyone listened attentively as I, the experienced Fire Chief shared a chunk of my knowledge.  They watched as I primed the pump and started the operation.  Now it was their turn.  I watched from ten feet away  as the suction was re-lowered into the well, the pump restarted,  but they had forgotten to prime, so no flow was to be had.  I took a step closer as a rookie figured the problem  out on his own, applied back pressure and re-angled the outlet.  At me.  300 gallons per minute of rancid dead animal stew  hit me right below the belly button.  Do you think that is humbling?  No, humbling is when this well water,  freezing cold well water blows your shorts down to your ankles in an instant.  Did I mention it was freezing cold water?  The great Chief stood before the crowd with all the primary sexual characteristics of a Ken doll. That is Humbling. 

I lay in a fetal position on a hospital bed unable to move.  I had been this way for weeks with herniated discs.  The local hospital was afraid to operate due to my cancer history and had shipped me out for expert surgery.  As I  lay there I asked God, “Can there be anything worse?”  I advise you to avoid that comment .  A 6’3″ man with bright red hair in a Ronald McDonald permanent showed up with a disposable razor.  If you wanted to cast a flamboyant gay guy for a movie, you would cast this fellow.  “Time to shave your bummy  for Doctor Martin!” ,  he announced with glee.  Humbling.  By the way, he was an excellent care-giver who understood a man’s pride, and did his best to preserve the gram of dignity I had left. 

I was in a bible study/prayer group.  I looked around the table at my fellow travelers, and realized I was superior.  I was the only one with a college education, actually a GED would have been trump with this crowd.  I was not on welfare,  I was wearing clothes bought just for me when they were new, not from the Salvation Army store.  I did however, have a problem.  I could not pray.  Since my mom died the previous year,  I just could not pray. I called it prayer-locked.  In front of a group I could sound like I was praying, but I was not talking to God, I was speaking so others would know what a good prayer I was.  Then it was Tami’s turn to pray.  She told God how happy she was for the miracle last night, that when she rechecked the cupboard with faint hope, there was a box of macaroni and cheese and her family had supper.  “Thank you Jesus for feeding us.”  She meant every word, nothing fancy, just humble and honest,  from the bottom of her heart.   I did not get my turn, I  was crying.  My heart was broken, I was humbled, and once again I could pray.  Thank you Jesus, thank you Tami. 

I wish I had no more stories like this, but to keep the testimony true, I  must admit there is  a bunch.  Some have no humor involved.   I once thought I was pretty tough, but I found out my own skin cells could turn against me and take me out.  I thought I was smart, but I have done the most idiotic things.  My dependence on my God grows every day. 

Micah 6:8   He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

He hath shown me, and I rejoice.

14 Comments so far
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“What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert — himself.”

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, chapter three, “The Suicide of Thought.”

Comment by Ike

“I just could not pray. I called it prayer-locked.”

This very thing happened to me. I never talked to anyone about this and I felt so guilty. It was horrible and it gave me many doubts about myself.

Comment by Ike

It is horrible. Some of it was due to self imposed false doctrine, some to depression, most to my own pride. Corporate prayer has a power to defeat this, but this inability to pray is possibly the worst experience in Christian life. How did you overcome this in your life? I think it is much more common than we all admit.
The separation from God was more than all the pain Jesus endured, and yet we somehow bring this condition on ourselves. I learned to count my many blessings, naming them one by one. That was my start. Please share your story.

Comment by willohroots

I think, (that’s dangerous), that maybe I was stretched emotionally because of my wife’s cancer returning. I was also deeply involved with the study of reformed theology. Don’t misunderstand me…..I believe in reformed theology but I think I got caught up in reformed culture. That’s a whole post in itself.

I don’t have a pat answer how I came out of it. I really thought I was alone in this and your comment was actually a great relief to me. I do remember pleading with the Lord for deliverence. I felt like I was throwing rocks at His door. I like the following:

“I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” Luke 11:8

“Impudence” is the key. Other versions show “importunity,” “persistence,” “boldness,” “shamelessness,” and “brazen insistence.” All good translations.

The word is anaideia. That’s the negative prefix an + aideia (“shame, respect, modesty”). The ESV renders it “impudence.” More casually, we call it “nerve.”

If you think prayer is boring, look at it from God’s perspective. How many boring, predictably flat, way-too-polite prayers must he have to put up with! Jesus is commanding us to pray nervy prayers, because that’s when we start getting serious with God. And he likes that. It’s when doors start opening up.

Matthew Henry: “We prevail with men by impudence because they are displeased with it, but with God because he is pleased with it.”

Comment by Ike

God bless you Ike, what do you think, we have a God who achieved Victory over death by dieing, brought love by being hated, and calls us to bug Him with prayer filled with nerve we do not deserve but were given as a gift. No wonder the world does not get it.

Comment by willohroots

Okay, I laughed really hard at the first one, wanted to hug you for the second, and the third made me cry. The cats are going to think I’m bipolar!

Everytime I’m tempted to think that I’ve got it going on, God reminds me that He is the One going on. I hope He never stops.

Comment by Shawn W

Years ago, I used to listen to a comedian by the name of Mike Warnke. He told a joke about being given an award for humility. It was a “humble button.” He said they took it away from him because he wore it.
I know, it is an old joke. But it has served me as a reminder that God has a way of humbling the proud; and I have known how to be proud before. And by God’s grace I intend to try and stay humble so I don’t get exposed, pardon the pun.
Thank you Will for sharing your life and struggle and friendship through the wires. I appreciate it very much.

Comment by jeofurry

Just read an interesting quote from Max Lucado.

“We are in the greatest danger of falling into the sin of pride when we have just done something humble.”

Nice post.

Comment by Eclectic Christian

The Lord surely has used His law (suffering and pain)to humble you, Will.

May He always slay us… and then raise us.

Thanks for sharing.

Comment by steve martin

Mike (Eclectic Christian) was right…this is a great blog! And this is a great line ” If we offer God the ore of our basic existence, should we not expect to be refined?”.

Offering up our life stories as signposts is a wonderful way to inspire others to do the same. Your adventures made me remember many of my own,

Blessings on Your Blog Minisrty!

Comment by Cynthia

Thanks and you are welcome, The frequent commenters here, including Mike, leave some of the best, deepest, and most loving posts in the blogissphere. Welcome aboard.

Comment by willohroots

Hi Will and Cynthia,

As you may have noticed, I have put eclectic christian on an indefinite hold. Life is just too busy for me to continue it. I will however continue to read and comment on your blogs.

Blessings on you both.

Mike Bell

Comment by Eclectic Christian

We will await your return! With baited breath, no less!

Comment by willohroots

I have found that God has a definite sense of humor. Every time I believe I am the best, the smartest, the …est at something, I end up cringing at something utterly and unbelievably stupid I have just said/done. I recognize when I start to get a little (or a lot) full of myself that I usually end up with foot in mouth disease and more than one or two funny looks from those around me.
It has only been recently that I have recognized the differences between bragging and stating fact, humility and false modesty. This post is so relatable to so many people because this is something sop many of us (and I assume it’s not just me) struggle with.
Although I can’t relate to the specifics of this post – Thank God – I can definitely relate to the meaning and I think it is admirable that you are willing to put yourself out there with such brutal honesty.

Comment by Tabithawynne

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