Proverbs 16:18 (the message)
First pride, then the crash –
the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
Acts 5:15-16 (the message)
They even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on stretchers and bedrolls, hoping they would be touched by Peter’s shadow when he walked by. They came from villages surrounding Jerusalem, throngs of them, bringing the sick and bedeviled. And they all were healed.
Yesterday afternoon I had a crash. You know why God lets you crash when you grow prideful? So in the fall your pride will shatter.
As I finally realized the state of my heart, as I finally saw myself the way I had truly become, I began to confess my sin. I am thankful for a mother that loves me enough to speak truth in love to me…in God’s timing. Without the humbling experience of being admonished and chastised by God (sometimes through another person), there is no healing, no repentance and no freedom from the shackles of pride. This morning, I asked God how did I get here? What happened? Have you ever finally had the your life “lens” de-fogged to see the truth of your heart and wondered when you drifted?
For me, it’s been a drift from the heart of love and grace. I mean the kind that flows to the unlovely and difficult people in your life. It’s easy to be loving and full of grace for the “easy” people in life…the people that make you feel good. But God never lets us coast like that. He seems to always make sure there are people or situations in your life that will challenge your love and grace walk. You can try to pray them away (or scare them away) but God will just bring someone else.
I am not completely sure when or why my heart let pride in, but it has. I am confessing it to my Father and I know He will help me. I am thankful He loves me enough to take the blinders off. As I asked the Lord what happened I thought about how busy I was getting recently. I knew that perhaps I had taken on more than God asked of me and I was getting tired from it. Perhaps it was in this time, as I was growing tired, that my thoughts began to focus on myself…how “worn out” I was starting to feel. And so I think my focus shifted from being a blessing to others to myself. How it was affecting me. Beware the dangers of a mind and heart overly concerned with self. Perhaps this is one of the weapons of the enemy against believers. If the devil can get you to take on more than God is asking of you, then he can try to wear you down, make you tired and get you to focus on yourself. Yes, the joy in serving Jesus and others watered down with “what about me?” Also, in my life there were additional circumstances recently that challenged my emotions but I know so well this morning how His grace is enough for me and it will be enough through me.
As I thought about my prideful heart this morning, I flipped over to pick up my reading in Acts. I came across the verses above…people are lying on stretchers hoping Peter’s shadow will fall on them! I asked God, how was it that Peter didn’t grow prideful? I mean come on!! That is when I sensed God saying Peter knew it wasn’t his doing and he knew it wasn’t about him. But how, God? Then God reminded me of something so encouraging it brings a sting to my eyes as I type! You know why God could fill Peter to such an amazing degree and Peter not get in the way? Because Peter had experienced a mighty crash and shattering of his pride the night of Jesus arrest.
Remember? Peter told Jesus with such confidence that he would never, ever deny Him! And then Jesus tells Peter he would deny him 3 times before the rooster crowed the next morning. And in fact he did. Jesus was arrested and taken before the religious rulers that night. Peter followed behind at a distance and as others recognized him as a companion of Jesus he adamantly told them “I don’t know the man!” After 3 denials and the sound of the rooster crowing, Peter ran off and “cried and cried and cried” (Matthew 26:75 msg) That verse has caught my attention before…I have imagined just how broken Peter was, how disillusioned he was with himself. This morning I can see how this was God’s will for him. God had great and powerful plans to use Peter to minster to others and grow the New Testament church! But first Peter had to be emptied of himself completely. Peter, in order to be filled to such a great degree of the Holy Spirit, had to really come to the end of himself…all he thought he was, could do and deserved.
In my heart this morning, as I deal with my own pride and crash, I hear the echo of a lesson I have learned and re-learned. It’s not about me. It’s not about my “rights.” Not if I want to be empty of myself and a wide open vessel for God to flow through. I know it goes against modern thinking, especially as a woman, to give up my “rights” and what I “deserve.” But you know what? God loves me and if He asks me to give up my rights, my pride, my boundary-setting at times, then I know He wants to flow through me and I know that I know He will take care of me.
Sometimes I need a crash so the “me” in the equation can crumble and shatter. Joy flows from a life that is about others. Depletion and negativity flows from a life that is all about self. It’s really about Jesus. Sometimes I just lose focus.
Thank you, Jesus, for the grace and mercy you have for me. The very grace and mercy I want to withhold from others sometimes. Help me, like Peter, to come to the end of myself. Thank you that you deal with me and help me. I have been so hungry for your presence, needing Your joy and peace. I would still be grasping if weren’t for my own crash. My life is not about my expectations or my plans. Deep inside I crave a life that is so all about You and love that it doesn’t matter where you take me or don’t take me. I love you, Lord. Forgive me for drifting into a mindset that was becoming all about me. There is no joy or power in that. Break me, Jesus. Let every bit of pride and self-preservation at work in my life crumble to bits before You. You are everything and being with You, sensing Your nearness, is what I truly long for.