Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. [Psalm 138:6 (NLT)]
No one enjoys feeling weak, whether it is emotionally, spiritually or physically. There is something within the human spirit that wants to resist the thought of weakness. Many times this is nothing more than our human pride at work. Just as weakness carries a great potential for strength, pride carries an equally great potential for defeat. [Charles Stanley]
Here I am again, with a broken ankle and wearing a knee-high air-boot for the next eight to ten weeks! We have guests visiting next Friday and, since they’re avid gardeners, we’d initially planned on taking them to the Botanic Gardens. Yesterday, I suggested a change in plans since a stroll through the gardens is beyond my walking ability. When my husband suggested pushing me in one of the garden’s wheelchairs, I began protesting until I recalled a similar situation over six years ago when my foolish pride almost prevented me from accepting the help I needed.
That time, another fractured ankle kept us from taking our regular walk through the swamp/bird sanctuary and we were going a bit stir-crazy. When my husband suggested pushing me along the boardwalk in one of their wheelchairs, I recoiled. Unwilling to acknowledge my weakness and need, I protested that only old people and invalids needed wheelchairs (even though I qualified on both counts). My vanity and foolish pride were keeping me from accepting my husband’s offer. After hearing an inner voice whisper, “Silly woman, think again!” I realized how foolish and self-centered I’d been. Eating my pride, I allowed my husband to do for me that which I couldn’t do for myself.
After joking with a little boy in a stroller that my stroller was bigger than his, we stopped to chat with Jack and Mary, an elderly couple we frequently saw there. Every morning (and some afternoons), Jack pushed his frail and ailing wife along the boardwalk. Unlike me, Mary accepted her diagnosis and dependence without complaint. In fact, she radiated peace and joy and her beautiful smile reminded me that I needed an attitude adjustment. I realized how incredibly fortunate we both were to have husbands who loved us enough to push us around the swamp. Both Mary and I were experiencing our husbands’ grace—which simply is love in action! And to think I almost missed that wonderful day (and many more like it) simply because of pride!
Just as I’d resisted my husband’s offer because I pridefully didn’t want to admit my need, we often find ourselves missing out on God’s grace – what Matthew Henry calls “the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God” – for the same reason. With His endless supply of mercy, love, healing, goodness, joy, peace, and forgiveness, there is no limit to God’s grace; it is sufficient for our every need. The only catch is that we must come to Him with a humble and contrite heart willing to admit our need and powerlessness. Pride, however, can keep us from acknowledging our vulnerability or deficiency. Just as I couldn’t make that swamp walk until I admitted I couldn’t do it on my own, none of us can successfully walk through life without accepting and depending on God’s beautiful grace and amazing power. It is only when we admit our weakness that we become strong!
A man does not get grace till he comes down to the ground, till he sees he needs grace. When a man stoops to the dust and acknowledges that he needs mercy, then it is that the Lord will give him grace. [D.L. Moody]