The Trip – A Parable:
It was 9:00 on a Friday night and the gym was a buzz with the screams and yelps of high schoolers, the whistles of referees and the screeching of shoe soles scuffling across the court floor. Humidity from sweat drenched basketball players made the gym slightly uncomfortable, but the anticipation of winning our county’s championship kept the crowd high in anticipation. Kaley’s eyes scanned across the court as both sides vied for their last shots before the buzzer was to signify the end of the game in 52 seconds.
Yet, with all the excitement her mind kept wondering to Eric, the high school senior sitting only two rows in front of her. She had heard that he had recently broken up with his long time girlfriend and might be interested in her. For this reason, she took extra time applying her makeup before the game and making sure every strand of hair was in place. Thoughts of him plagued her daily for the past year and now with the potential that he could finally be hers, not even the intensity of the game could distract her from the highlights of his hair from the gym fluorescents. Suddenly jerked from reality by the buzzer of the game, Kaley’s friend Gina pulled her up off the bleachers in exuberant cheers. Kaley realized their team had won the game. She smiled at her friend as she watched Eric give high fives to all his friends as they slowly started walking out of the gym. Kaley panicked as she realized she was blocked by a sea of bodies between them and her plan to “cutely” walk past him and catch his eye had failed. Feeling disappointment fill her thoughts as Eric exited the gym she quickly tried to push through the crowd with Gina in tow.
When she reached the exit of the gym into the foyer she spotted him. He hadn’t left yet! Butterflies filled her stomach as she realized she still had a chance to “cutely” walk by and catch his eye. Kaley and Gina had plans to meet up with friends after the game and grab a late bite to eat so she knew they would be waiting in their car in the parking lot. This ended up being a perfect plan, or so Kaley thought. She would walk by and catch his eye, then get in her friend’s car like a super star and see him again over at The Spot (where everybody went after the game). As she got closer and closer to Eric her stomach tightened. She shook her hair out and patted her lips to redden them. She started strutting her best runway walk and pretended to turn and talk to Gina and laugh at absolutely nothing. After all, she had to look like she was having fun. I mean didn’t they always show laughing or smiling girls in those commercials. Gina took no mention to her knowing she was trying to show off for Eric. As Kaley passed by Eric she turned and smiled slightly while following Gina out the double doors to the parking lot. Suddenly, the world was turning – upside down then right side up. Before she could realize what was going on something hard hit her back and head and everything went black.
Only seconds had passed when Kaley came to. What had just happened? Her friend Stephanie was jumping out of the car yelling something about how awesome that was. She looked over and saw Eric’s snickering face and scanned down to notice the car pylon in front of her. In all of her walking glory passed Eric, she had forgotten to look where she was going. Although she knew the car pylons were there 5 feet in front of the double doors, she was too distracted to remember. She had tripped. Right in front of him and apparently, considering how she felt, it was a doozy. Gina grabbed Kaley and pulled her off the ground asking if she was ok. Kaley replied she was fine, it was just her pride that was broken….
How many times in our lives can we say in some way we have needed a good “trip”? Those times we are on a “high” in life and suddenly we get knocked down. Now this was just a fun little story, but it gives us a picture of how we can get so distracted with impressing the world and getting what we want that we don’t see, or we forget, about the dangers that lie in front of us. We get tripped up and our pride is broken. I consider these times like little holy “trips” to humility. Bringing us back to where our minds and focus should be – not of this world – and off of ourselves. It is easy to get consumed by ourselves – whether good or bad, but this ends us up in a pitfall of pride and selfishness. Most of the time I see that God will give us little “trips”, but often times we don’t respond and that leads to bigger and more aggressive “trips”. I can relate to this in my own life when God was calling me into obedience. I can see times where He was trying to get my attention, but I was too focused on myself and this world to listen. He had to bring me so low that I didn’t want to focus on myself anymore because there was nothing there good to focus on! I had to be humbled.
Everyone knows the popular scripture verse, Prov. 16:18 that talks about how pride comes before a fall (“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.) – isn’t this true? If we look at all of history isn’t it the most prideful who are brought low? When Christ came He said that He came to seek and save the lost – not the worthy – because none are worthy. We may think we are worthy – worthy of a good life, good friends, a nice house, etc etc…even worthy of God’s love, but we are not. If we have responded to God’s “trips” then we will realize this.
I have seen so much lately in those who are self-centered and prideful. I have seen God trying to poor humility into them without response. I fear for them, because those God wants to humble – He will humble. Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Though they join forces none will go unpunished.” We cannot truly know the love of God until we are fully humbled and see ourselves for who we truly are.
I met this young kid recently. He had just graduated from High School and was on his way to college. The world was at his feet. He was talented and liked by so many. Truly, I did see how much was awaiting him in his life and how God could truly use him and his talents. But there was one thing. He had no humility. He saw himself as glorious as everyone else saw him. It was a shame to me, because I felt scared for him, to see how God would humble him into repentance. We all have gifts to give and in order to truly use them for God’s glory we have to get rid of all glory for ourselves and realize who our gifts come from.
Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly;
To love mercy,
And to walk HUMBLY with your God?”
Christ was the ultimate example of humility. He walked with those who were sinners and sought those who were lost. He gave all glory to God and sacrificed himself for all those who shamed Him. In knowing humility we know Christ. In knowing Christ we know love and honor. Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.” Matt. 18:3,4 Jesus tells us, “‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” God knows we cannot love him, nor find Christ if we are filled with pride. We need to be tripped up and on our faces before we find humility. We need to know that we have nothing we can offer God, but our love and faith. Once we realize that we find the greatest and most complete love that comes from the cross. Then we take honor in Him who gave us life and we boast in Him! It is a beautiful picture.
So I welcome my “trips”, for I pray that God will keep me humble and focused on Him and not on this world and what I might gain from it. Especially in these days and the days to come.
(On a funny side note: the story about Kaley is based on something that actually happened to me, except my sister says the only thing more embarrassing than the actual trip was my “duck” walk that I was using to impress the guy with…oh live and learn. Luckily God granted me a husband who loves my walk the way it is – trips and all – and believe me, I trip a lot)