Tuesday, October 15, 2019
I had just finished playing an 8th grade basketball game. The rest of the members of the team and I were sitting in the bleachers watching the 9th grade game. The cheerleaders for our grade came and sat with us. I was so nervous. I had my eye on one of them, and I was terrified when she came and sat down beside me. I had never been that close to someone that cute. I was being prepared for the day I would eventually meet the most beautiful of all women and marry her.
As we sat in the bleachers, doing the typical 8th grade flirting, the conversation turned to knee pads. Back in those days, it was cool to wear one knee pad when you played basketball. It was a symbol of your aggressiveness and your ability to play through pain. Well, I had injured both knees. I had a bone chip right below the knee cap on one, and the other one was bruised from a collision. I needed them both, but I was the only one who wore two.
Before I go on, I want you to get a visual image of what I looked like back then. I’d send a picture if I had one. I’m sure my wife will think it’s funny to find one and post it to her Facebook page. In 8th grade I was the same height I am now – 5’ 11”. But I only weighed 125 pounds. I was so very skinny. I ate more than I do now and I never gained weight. My most prominent feature was my proboscis (nose). I was nicknamed “Trumpet” in college. I was strong, but didn’t look it, and to an 8th grade boy, appearance equaled value. As a result, I was very insecure.
So here we are, all my basketball buddies and the cheerleaders, sitting in the stands, when during the conversation about kneepads the girl I liked turned to me and said, “So John, why do you wear two kneepads? Is it because your legs are so weak?”
I got up and left the gym, and I don’t think I ever talked to that girl again.
I’m sure you have a story or two of humiliation in your past as well. It’s not fun. We would never choose it intentionally…or would we?
Isaiah 20:2 –at that time the LORD spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.
Isaiah did. He so completely trusted the Word of the Lord and the heart of his God that he publicly humiliated himself for three years so that the message of God could be delivered. That’s amazing.
So much of our time and energy is spent on creating good public image. Public policy doesn’t recommend humiliation as the foundation of exaltation. But God does. We want others to see us, when God wants others to see Him in us. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be exalted, they must first be completely humbled.” It’s how God works.
The problem is we think so highly of ourselves that we would never consider hurting ourselves. But we have been deceived into focusing on the temporary hurt rather than the long-term benefit. Humiliation may hurt other people’s opinions of us, but it brings out the richness of God’s opinion of us. Don’t we realize that while we work so hard to enhance our exterior to maintain our earthly relationships, we are hurting the one relationship that really matters – the one with God?
I don’t know how I would respond if God asked me to do something as humiliating as He asked of Isaiah. The fact that I don’t know means it will probably happen, because it’s obvious that God still must humble me. How about you? Are you ready to trust God completely and not worry about what man says?