Since my little health incident about five months ago, many things have changed in my life and today I had a chance to reflect on these changes and talk to my wife Sandy about some of them. With our 17 year old son Tim, we were on a long drive to visit my parents across state. I may have mentioned previously that I have been unable to drive since January but clearance to do so may come in about four weeks, if the doctor O.K.s it.
For the 22-plus years Sandy and I have been together, I have done nearly all of the driving on trips of any kind, long or short but she has had to bear this burden for the whole house during my recovery. Since she hates driving to begin with, that burden has been even harder for her and I haven’t always been the most agreeable passenger. It turns out that I scare easily when I’m not driving and tend to think that others aren’t as cautious or considerate as they should be when they drive-this defined in my own terms, of course.
The discussion today centered around my routine two week check-in with my office to remind them that I am: a) still alive; b) conscious and able to think & speak with alacrity; c) intending to return after my recovery is complete and; d) capable of doing the same effective job upon my return, as I did prior to the emergence of my health issue. Indeed, my wife has had to resubmit my doctor’s note three separate times this month alone to remind people of my planned return to work date, which I have also discussed with my boss and my boss’s boss. Enough of this, though. How bureaucracies work, or don’t, is not what this is about.
What this is about is the most ancient sin of all and the one into which I think most of us most easily fall. It has been the subject of innumerable books, movies, TV shows and the source of the downfalls of luminaries from every walk of life and culture throughout history.
You might be asking yourself, “Gosh Scott what is it? Is it sex?, greed?, lust for power?, what?”
I think it’s the most basic thing of all: Vanity. Everyone likes to be schmoozed. I do, you do, everyone does. Sure, when we are complimented by those who wish us well we may even feel a bit uncomfortable but we know that we feel more good than discomfort. This happened to me the other day when I called my good friend and hard-working, intelligent peer. Our boss hadn’t shown up for work yet.
Anyway, we hadn’t spoken since she made a deal to come work at my office on the one condition that I be there with her, when I come back to work. What a wonderful vote of confidence this was, but also a powerful temptation for me to believe that I came to this admiration of my own accord and not by anything The Lord had done in my life and which I fervently believe now. It reminded me of what Jesus said to Pontius Pilate at His trial:
You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given to you from above. Luke 19:11
Here’s the evidence of the vanity I was tempted to indulge in: I believed for the longest time that I came to my place in life of my own accord and not because I was destined and led by God. This was my mode of thinking when I made the call last week. What a mistake!
When we start believing our own press and disallowing the powerful heavenly forces that lead us to our stations in life, we become targets for easy mark by those dark forces in the world who want us to believe that we can do things on our own. This often ends in disaster for people like me who are Christians but have not drawn close enough to The Lord that He would draw close to us enough to recognize His tremendous influence in our lives.
The Roman centurion had it right when he approached Jesus and said:
“Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:8-9
The biggest misunderstanding I had about my authority and accomplishments as a manager, and leader was that I came to it on my own and gave no credit to The Lord who really did the leading. My best moments professionally and personally came as a result of drawing in to my Lord enough that He drew close to me and set me on the well lit, right path of His healing, His peace, His humility, and His grace. He still draws me closer and He also draws closer moment by moment. No vanity here, only grace and peace that comes by this relationship.
No more regrets here. When I return to work, I will do so drawing in to Him who sent me forth to serve with a glad heart to do that work and that work alone.
Say the word only, Lord and I shall be healed.