2018-07-04 - Leave It Behind
The scorching heat seemed combustible on its own, and yet I still needed a lighter, to start another cigarette. Or did I? It was a couple days after the official start of summer, in the year nineteen ninety-eight, and I laid the remainder of a pack of Doral ultra-lights on the top ledge of the metal shelving in the garage above the can of fuel for the mower. I decided that this time, I would really let go - and would not light up anymore. I left it behind twenty years ago today, and kept that end of a pack on a shelf for the first ten, to remind me of where I had been and what was possible with God’s help. I had tried to quit a few times, yet never until the last time, had I enlisted his assistance. Somehow, only after several unsuccessful attempts, I thought of the God who makes plants that can live in rocks. Certainly, he could help me learn to better to depend on him and less on myself, and he proved it again. Whatever we believe is impossible to overcome is proven to be a lie, every time. So why, then, do we forget what we are shown, just as the Israelites did repeatedly after God showed them what was possible through him?
The short answer is pride. There is one definition of pride (Webster’s New Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary, 1983) in the verb tense, where it means “to make proud,” and it is very rare. Virtually every other definition of the word involves self-absorption and focus on one’s own achievements, dignity comparable to a male peacock spreading its tail feathers to impress a female. So in most ways, pride is not a flattering trait to possess. By turning to God specifically, and telling him I knew I needed him to leave something behind, he granted me the mercy allowed, in order to succeed. I believe there is no other explanation behind not having an interest in returning to the ledge, after two decades. Since then, there have been other obstacles, and have I reminded myself of the hurdles I have cleared with a help like no other. God tells us in Malachi (3:10) that if we trust in him, he will prove true to his word. Are you ready for his help?
“For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.” (Psalm 10:3-5 NIV)
All scripture references are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.