Humble Pie: A Lesson in Humiliation.
I liike pie. Gimme a creamy custard, crusty peach, warm apple crisp & a generous scoop of vanilla, or a lattice cherry with a shot of espresso on the side.
Seriously, if you put a plate of pie in front of me, I will not hurt your feelings. My favorite pie ever is Paula Deen's Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. It is equal parts pumpkin pie, equal parts cheesecake, all parts dreaminess. You sink into the rich texture of the cream cheesiness before your senses are lovingly kissed by the fragrant spices of cloves and cinnamon.
I haven't made it for several years. You know, trying to be good and all. I don't trust myself not to eat the whole deep dish with a serving spoon by myself at 2 a.m. while everyone else is asleep. I told you. I like pie.
You know what I don't like? Nasty humble pie. Yuck.
But regardless, it comes for me. I've had the kind of week that serves it up in huge, piping-hot portions. Mmm-Mmm. Gross. It's not been fun. It's been humiliating. It's kind of been a reoccurring theme for me lately: Humility.
It's not the fun side of life. Or glamorous. It's not something I look forward to. But I still have to go forward. It's a door I keep coming to that I ultimately must go through.
I have a friend who has been going through something for several years now that is such a bummer. And I too, have my own battles I'm fighting that I feel like should just be over already. We vent to each other and wallow and carry on. THEN, we pull ourselves together, encourage and re-assure each other. We decided that God must be having us complete a "character building exercise." We joke that we are slow learners.
When we face difficult situations that make no earthly sense as to why we must face them, we re-remind each other, "Well, your character must not be on par yet. Get it together already, will ya?"
Do we keep failing the same test over and over? We have concluded that God does, in fact, care more about our character during the seasons that are really quite a bummer than the victory once we've arrived at the destination.
Are we still going though some of the same battles over and over again because there's a lesson to be learned and we are just not getting it the first or 72nd time through? For example, I may need to develop patience and kindness in my character, but when I keep blowing it in the patience and kindness department when I am faced with an "opportunity" to be patient and kind, I am then given more "opportunities" to show patience and kindness. Maybe your battle is set up to develop faith, or to learn discipline, or whatever your situation needs to be to develop your character.
It's fun right? Humble pie.
I hope you read the above line with the sarcasm that was intended. This week of "character building" has been anything but fun.
Today I was reading in 1 Samuel 17 and I was encouraged to notice a man named Jonathon was also no stranger to humiliation. His Father, Saul was king of the Israelites. They were camped on one side of a crossing. Their enemy, the Philistines, were camped on the other side. Jonathon decided to cross over the passthrough and show himself to the enemy. We have no idea why he wants to go alone with his amour-bearer and provoke an opposing army, but whateves. He does it.
There was only one way to cross the passthrough between the two armies because there were giant cliffs on either side. So, it's either go straight through, or fall over a cliff. (Which, by the way, is sometimes the only way I will cross a path God intends for me to take too. Sometimes obedience is prompted by having no other choice, ya know what I mean?)
vs. 13 says, "Jonathan climbed up out of the pass on his hands and knees, and the young man followed him."
What happens next is ridiculous. When they got to the top, the twenty men who were stationed at the greeting spot fell down. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the armor-bearer initiates what turns out to be a clean wash of the enemy. Jonathan and his loyal assistant were mysteriously victorious in an impromptu battle. The disruption sent shock and confusion to the rest of the camp, and then the ground shook only further assisting in the chaos. The Philistines began turning on each other and slaughtering their own selves.
It's so cool they survived and defeated the bad guys in this best-case and most unlikely scenario ever, but still, Why would Jonathon go so outnumbered to enemy camps? It wasn't an order. No one made him do it.
Vs.6 says that he told his armor bearer, "Let's cross over to the camp....Maybe the Lord will help us; if he does, nothing can keep him from giving us victory, no matter how few of us there are."
I wish I was brave enough to take such risk just cause, ya know, "Maybe the Lord will help us?" And then to have confidence that "if he does, nothing can stop him."
The man had ridiculous faith. He was obviously confident enough that the God of Angel armies would go with them, so much so he risked his life.
So what does this absurdly brave young man of extreme faith and dazzling confidence do?
"Jonathan climbed up out of the pass on his hands and knees..."
When I read that verse my heart skipped a beat. Hey! That man is eating my humble pie!
I was so happy to have visitors.
Such confidence on display, such audacity and boldness, such sass, and such a promise. This was the man who postured himself in a humiliating position to cross the passing while the opposition snickered at his low position.
I think if I had just a small measure of courage as Jonathon, I would have puffed my chest out and marched to the enemy with my head held high obnoxiously talking trash the whole way. Why wouldn't he be smug knowing he had a secret weapon on his side? He knew he had the favor of the Lord. If you're confident enough to risk your life; Why crawl? Why not march?
Because Humble pie.
I've tried to explain to my children about this upside-down faith we have. My six-year-old son Gabe refuses to pray first at bedtime. He always wants to go last, after his brothers, after his dad, even after me. One day, I said, "Gabe, you don't have to go last all the time." He explained, "Mom, I want to be last so I can be first!"
His little mind is trying to make sense of what he heard in Matthew 20:16, "So the last shall be first, and the first shall be last."
God's ways seem to be backwards and opposite from ours.
James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up."
So go down to go up and go backwards to go forward? God must of known this would be confusing, so to make sure we didn't get it twisted, He sent us an example.
Why did he have to send us such a precious example and model this so severely for us?
He gave his own son all power and authority in heaven and on earth, even to crush demonic strongholds. Nothing was outside of his reach, and what does he do? He allows himself to be physically cut and beaten to death, blow after humiliating blow. To crawl through his passthrough on hands and knees with thorns stabbing his head and a splintering heavy tree crushing his body while his opposers mocked him.
Dear God, why?! Why would your very own son, part of you, Majestic King of all the world, need to eat a piece of that disgusting pie?
Jonathon found ridiculous victory on the other side of that crossing. He was outnumbered, vulnerable, and humble. I can't help but read through this and wonder if this was indeed a significant part of the story.
Jonathan's story made me feel better after being kicked around a little this week. I was embarrassed by my journey. Humiliated, humbled. Maybe you too, have felt like you are crawling on all fours, vulnerable and humiliated. Maybe they're snickering at you, too.
Don't forget we serve a God who delights in backwards and upside down.
You want the recipe for humble pie? Serve the Lord. He seems to serve it at all his parties. We don't understand why but it's important to be humble.
I've gotta come to the conclusion that God doesn't value us based on the position we've arrived to, how much noise we make, or how fantastic our victories. What if the important part is going through the crossing? Perhaps it's even more important than the crushing victory on the other side. Maybe you can't get to that crushing victory without eating your humble pie in the crossing.
And remember, sometimes he puts strategic cliffs on either side of us, so we have no other path but through. Don't jump off. Just crawl.
Here's to character building.
And because I love you, here's a link to Paula's Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. Enjoy the crossing, sweet friends.