Saturday, July 17, 2010

Humility.

Many apologies for the fact that this is incredibly disjointed and, at times, almost incoherent. This post is entirely about me getting a lot of thoughts out that I've encountered over the last couple of days. Maybe you'll get something out of it too, but that's not my primary goal.

Often times, if we take a moment to reflect on some event in our lives we can see God working gently and mysteriously in the background. He seems to have a way of taking situations that might not seem ideal at face value and work them out for the benefit of our relationship with Him in one way or another. I think it's fair to say that often (or even most of the time), God works in deliberate, but very subtle ways.

Occasionally, He doesn't.

The last week fall under the "incredibly obvious" category for me. What began with an instant message from my brother asking if I might be interested in flying across the country on a Wednesday to drive some high schoolers back on Friday from a Young Life trip resulted in what has been one of the more powerful experiences I've ever had.

That instant message conversation took place last week Friday, and my initial reaction was to respectfully decline, citing the loss in pay from missing two days of work as my rationale. It just didn't make a whole lot of sense for me to pick up and go. I told him that if no one else was available and the situation was urgent I might be able to reconsider.

Sunday morning I attended Church in the morning with Tyler and received a sermon that was supposedly about unity within the Church, but in actuality was focused on the sin of pride (as one of the primary reasons for lack of unity). Though the delivery wasn't entirely to my taste, the message was powerful. Pride kills. It eats at you from the inside, and it doesn't let go easily. I came away humbled and introspective about the fact that pride is something I struggle with constantly. It's not a week by week, or even day by day, struggle for me, but minute by minute. I see myself as a pretty good guy and tend to judge others accordingly.

Monday morning brought the call I had an inkling would be coming: there really was an urgent need for another person to help drive kids home. (I won't go into deep detail for many reasons, but I discovered that one of the leaders on the South Christian Young Life Wilderness trip in Colorado was no longer available as a driver for the return trip. The entire situation begs for prayer, both for the South Christian community and for the individuals and families involved.) I was informed that we could fly out Thursday afternoon so I would only miss a day and a half of work, and we would meet up with the group in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Friday to begin the 18 hour drive home.

I agreed, seeing a unique opportunity not only for few free plane rides but also a potentially fun road-trip and the chance to help out some people that clearly needed it at the time.

It wasn't clear to me until we met up with the group how much we were actually needed, though. The students were upbeat, but several of the leaders, being closer to the situation concerning the missing driver, had obviously been wrestling with the tidal wave of information that had been unleashed upon them over the course of the previous week. They were tired and worn out, emotionally, physically, and especially spiritually.

It was at this point that my true lesson in humility began.

In my mind, I was doing an honorable thing. I was taking time out of my (admittedly not very busy) schedule to fly to Wyoming and help drive the eighteen hours home less than a day after my arrival. I was a little bit tired, and my long body wasn't exactly comfortable in the driver's seat for three or four hours at a time. If ever there was a time for me to feel good about myself, this is it, right? (For the record, I'm not implying that it was a bad thing for me to agree to help out. I am saying that my attitude was all wrong.)

In the midst of this situation though, in talking to some of the students and leaders, I began to realize that I was completely out of line. Not only had this group spent the last few days dealing with what was an incredibly gut-wrenching situation with someone they all knew and loved, but they had been sleeping in tents for a week, hiking during the day, and putting themselves into some of the most uncomfortable positions possible, not to mention the fact that they had ridden in the vans for a full three hours before Timm and I even joined them. What right did I have to be proud of the sacrifices I was making?

My lessons didn't stop there. I was constantly bombarded with offers to make myself more comfortable. I was given a purse, a backpack, and several articles of clothing to use as makeshift pillows during the leg of the trip where I attempted to get some rest. I was asked if the music was too loud for me to sleep. The list goes on, and each offer came with a smile. All from folks who, in my opinion at least, had every reason to sulk and complain for the entire duration of the trip. I only hope I was able to help lighten some of the burden every once of them must have been feeling.

All in all, I had a blast. It was a great group of people, they helped to teach me a priceless lesson, and I hope I'm at the top of their list of people to call if they need someone to fly out to Cheyenne and help drive them home on short notice.

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