As you may have noticed, I don’t reference a lot of scripture in my posts, unless I think it’s necessary to highlight where exactly I’m getting my thoughts from. I do this for a few reasons: 1) While I generally enjoy digging in to verses for exegetical purposes, I try to keep the writing more conversational, and less preachy. 2) I try not to present myself as some master theologian who has all of the answers. It is easy when using scripture to not leave any room for argument, who can argue with God? So, I try to keep to the application side of things, where my thoughts are influenced by the principles I find in scripture, but are open for discussion.
Having said that, I’m about to dig in to a specific scripture.
Please turn in your Bibles, or your Olive Tree app, to 1 Peter 5:6 (NAS) “Therefore, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”
You can breathe a sigh of relief, because I won’t pull out any Hebrew or Greek words. Instead, I want to look at the math contained in that verse.
Can you see it? There is a clear formula presented. If you do X then Y will happen.
If you humble yourself, you will be exalted. The thing that trips us up, of course, is the timing of the whole thing. The reverse is also true. If you exalt yourself, you will be humbled.
One of the deepest desires of every person, believer or not, is the desire for greatness. Even people who are eternally pessimistic about their future spend their energies wishing they could be exalted. We are made to want to be great, it isn’t a bad thing, it is what it means to be made in the image of God.
The mistake we make, though, is trying to make it happen on our own. Ultimately, it is a lack of trust that God will do what he promised, so we feel like we must take matters into our own hands. It isn’t usually some evil plan to rebel on purpose, we just need to learn the lesson.
Remember, this is a mathematical formula, so it stands to reason that if we take measures to exalt ourselves, then it then becomes necessary for us to be humbled. Either way, humility will happen.
I learned this over and over in my early to mid 20′s, and I still have a long way to go. I knew that I had a calling on my life, but I didn’t have the patience to make wait for the proper time. So, I struck out on my own to produce what I thought I was called to. I didn’t trust that God wanted me to find my calling.
It ended in failure. Several failures, actually. I bounced from dream to dream, trying to plot a course that would take me to the place where I wanted to be.
Finally, I gave up. With no job prospects, and with the fire of several failures still burning brightly behind me, I gave up. I didn’t have much else going on, so I volunteered to help Numana, the company I now work for, set up a line of consistently branded merchandise. At the time, Numana was just starting to take off, and I recognized that if it was going to be a national brand, then it would need t-shirts and merchandise for people to buy at packaging events. No one else was doing it at the time, so I offered to do it.
Then, something crazy happened. It ended up becoming a the job that I had been trying to create on my own all along. Over the course of the next year, I moved from just doing merchandise to a part of the marketing team. I was able to use and develop all of the things that I had tried to create on my own, and was surprised to find that I had passion for things I hadn’t even considered. As it turns out, God knew what I wanted better than I did.
I’m not saying that I knew exactly what I was doing, and that it would all work out. It could just as easily been another step on my journey. But, it is a common tale, almost to the point of cliche. When people come to the end of their efforts, with nothing to show but wounds that are still cracked and bleeding, they give up. Like I gave up. I offered my service to a long shot, with little hope of success. In short, I was humbled.
So the equation goes. When I humbled myself, I found what I was looking for all along.
Have you ever lacked trust and tried to produce something on your own? What did it take for you to be humbled?