One morning, I walked into my music teacher’s classroom to start my violin lesson and noticed two violins on the desk. My eye was immediately drawn to the first one, which looked new. A brand-new violin is something to behold, with gorgeous curves, a glossy, unscratched surface that shines in the light, and an engagingly twisting scroll fitted with squeaky tuning pegs.
When I graduated from college, I had my heart set on becoming a professional full-time translator. For four years, I’d devoted every bit of spare time to studying my language pair and taking translation courses. I loved the challenge of transposing meaning from one language to another, and I had already been a volunteer translator for a few years.
1. After a disagreement, take the first step toward reconciliation, and be willing to apologize if you discover that you’ve made a mistake.
Recently, I came to a wholly and thoroughly unsurprising conclusion: I am not good enough.
Now, of course, I know that no one can ever be “good enough” in this life. What would be more accurate, I suppose, would be to say that I could be much better. Admittedly, I am not as bad as one could be, seeing as I was raised in the love and admonition of the Lord in a home where rules and love were both dished out in their proper helpings. But still, the inescapable fact is that I could be better.
When you think of “great” men and women, what sort of people come to mind? Many of us would list outstanding athletes, best-selling authors, favorite movie or TV actors, music artists, politicians, and so forth. That’s natural. These are the people who dominate the media, and we’re fed a constant stream of information regarding their lives, ideas, habits, and preferences.
One key element in our pursuit of Christlikeness is emulating the humility of Jesus. In the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans, humility was seen as a negative trait. It denoted a subservient attitude on the part of someone considered to be of a lower class. It was seen as a cowed attitude, one of self-belittlement or degradation. The honor-shame culture of that time exalted pride, and humility was seen as undesirable.
Take a close look at the two guitars pictured above. If you were a guitarist, which would you pick up to play? Probably the one on the top with the straight frets (the thin metal pieces along the fret board that the strings are pressed down onto), right? Well, you might be surprised to hear that it’s the one at the bottom that some leading guitarists say makes the best sound. Odd, isn’t it?
“Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.”1 The first time I heard that Bible verse, my heart hurt, and I felt so ashamed. Why? Because I knew there were people I hadn’t forgiven. Yet I really wanted God to forgive me for the things that I had done that hurt someone else.
You have encountered both high mountains and deep valleys throughout your life of faith. You have at times found yourself in what seemed like a deep pit and have had to climb out and start over. At times you have wondered why you have to face the low points and the times when you fail or fall. The falls can be painful, and it requires effort to crawl out of the low places and to once again continue on your journey.
Have you ever been happily reading an enjoyable book when suddenly a sentence hits you right between the eyes? In The Furious Longing of God,1 Brennan Manning writes: