Ed, my neighbor next door, stops shaving during the rush of harvest. His beard, a healthy growth of stubble, was evident yesterday when he asked me about our recent trip to Ottawa. “Well, how did the wedding go in Ottawa? Most people know the hundred mile rule – if a wedding is more than a hundred miles away, it is too far to go!” Ed commented along with his question.
“The wedding was impressive, but it was humbling to keep answering the question, ‘Who are you again?’ Being a brother to the groom’s grandmother seemed to surprise those relatives under forty who were not really all that impressed that I even existed. I was living ancient history, which tends to be pretty, uninteresting stuff for most folks,” I told Ed.
“Good job they didn’t get to know you, as you are just too plain ordinary to be memorable. You’re not like my grandmother’s brother Tom. He was famous at every family celebration, especially weddings, for bringing his own good Scottish whiskey but not sharing it, and he always wore the family tartan kilt. He died at ninety-four while dancing the Highland Fling!” Ed related. After a pause Ed said with deep reverence, “He went out in glory – died surrounded by bagpipes and drafty kilts!” Ed’s last comment had me suspecting that he had been spinning another yarn.
Being at a family wedding and seeing some relatives after fifteen or twenty years made me aware that many of them have grown much older. It was evident that I myself was part of the oldest group of relatives present at the wedding. It was both obvious and rather humbling to be one of the old timers there!
Anyone can see that Ed has a beard presently, but he’ll soon shave it off. It is only temporary. In contrast, I have gone bald, and there is nothing temporary about it! Once, I had abundant hair so it is humbling to accept that it has left my head and isn’t coming back.
Sadly, we often fail to see beyond the surface or the outside appearance. Just as important as the outside of the cup is the inside. We need to determine what is in our own heart that is, our motives, and the motives of others. In the Bible, we are told of Samson, who was proud of his great strength. He delighted in a beautiful woman, Delilah, who only pretended to love him. She wanted to find out the secret of Samson’s great strength and betray him to his enemies.
Once Samson shared with her the secret of his strength, she had his hair cut off and Samson lost his strength. He quickly ended up in chains, in prison, with his eyes gouged out. It was humbling for a person of Samson’s strength to be captured. In prison, Samson was powerless, but he realized the truth that his strength was from God and for God’s purpose. His strength was so that he could protect God’s people. The enemies of Samson celebrated his captivity and they saw him as a weak captive, but it brought about their doom, as Samson’s hair had grown while in prison. What makes us proud can also humble us if we forget God gives us strength or power for His purpose, not for our own glory.