Do you remember the children’s story from grade school? The one about the emperor who was conned into preening down the street in what he believed were the fanciest duds ever, when in reality he was parading around in his birthday suit. Everyone around the monarch went along with the deception, except for one little boy. When that honest little guy spoke truth, the emperor’s self-deception was laid bare, and he ran away to hide.
Not too long ago, I felt as though God had cast me as the lead in an updated version of the particularly revealing saga. Not in a literal sense, mind you. My physical clothes were in place throughout the experience. But as for my spiritual duds, the ones I believed were woven of 100% humility? Well, God spoke truth and stripped them away, revealing what lay beneath layers and layers self-deception.
God’s truth exposed pride. Prideful thoughts. Prideful words. Prideful attitudes. Prideful actions. So much pride, my first desire was to run away and hide. But God made it quite clear, through the words of Hebrews 5:13, that hiding from Him is not an option. And in 1 Peter 5:5, He clearly stated what needed to be done: put on different clothes.
I wasn’t to keen on the idea of complete wardrobe change after a lifetime of struggling to unzip pride and button down humbleness…only to discover that my version of humility was 100% fake. So I argued with God. I can’t do this on my own. I’m not sure I can do it even with you leading the way. Therefore. I. Give. Up.
Having dealt with the matter, my fickle mind wandered on to less taxing, more mundane thoughts. The grocery list for Thanksgiving dinner. Hauling Christmas decorations from the attic. The column for the December newsletter. Not one hopeful writing idea came to mind until a wisp of Christmas story from the gospel of Luke wove its way into my thoughts: And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator of all things came to earth as a humble baby wrapped in humble cloths. His mother laid Him in a manger because there was no room at the inn. Why on earth did God’s Son humiliate Himself so completely? To save prideful sinners like you and me, wrapping us in His humility when we cannot clothe ourselves.
The words of a simple, children’s Christmas carol threaded their way into my consciousness.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.
I closed my eyes as hope blazed in my heart, as bright as the star over Bethlehem so long ago. Lord Jesus, I prayed, please change my clothes. Clothe me and all your children in your humility so we are fit to represent you on earth and to live with you in heaven when you call us home. Amen.
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