The Bigger the Ego, the Harder the Fall (Prayer Devotional for the week of May 11, 2014)

My brother and I used to love to play on the Slip & Slide in the summer (which, growing up in Houston, means all but a few weeks out of the year). The most important thing to remember about setting up the tarp was to clear the area of pinecones. If you’ve never had the misfortune of sliding across a hidden pine cone while careening down a Slip & Slide, then consider yourself lucky. The second most important thing to remember was never touch the water as soon as you turn on the hose, because it will scald you.

We would take turns running and sliding, over and over, and not think twice about diving headlong into the grass. We’d fly down the tarp Superman-style and feet-first, forwards and backwards. We even tried surfing and doing all kinds of “stupid human tricks” on that thing.

Nowadays? No way, José. You couldn’t bribe me with enough money to take a running start and throw myself onto the ground, Slip & Slide or not. A few decades and more than a few extra pounds and aching joints have transpired since my slipping and sliding days. The harder the fall, the longer the physical therapy … or something like that.

Actually, you’ve probably heard the saying, “Pride comes before the fall.” The Bible has quite a lot to say about taking a fall, and it’s not the Slip & Slide kind. That saying actually comes from Proverbs 16:18, and I love how The Message paraphrase tweaks it to read, “… the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.”

God isn’t interested in our tricks and stunts. He knows when we are being disingenuous in our day-to-day lives, even if we’ve managed to fool everyone else around us. He sees right through it when we play church, too. Take a look at what God spoke to his people through the prophet Amos (5:23-24, MSG): “I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”

God wants the “you” behind the façade, the “you” with all the bumps & bruises of life, to come kneel at his throne and give up the games. Give up the tricks, the stunts, the show. Come to him with your raw ego in hand, knowing that even if it means bringing you down a few notches, it’s better to hand it over to God than fall flat on your face.

Soar! (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 16, 2014)

I had the privilege once of riding shotgun in a private plane. It was, without a doubt, one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Flying is a completely different experience from the co-pilot’s seat! I got to wear a headset and listen to the pilot communicate with air traffic controllers, and he toggled between channels so that we could talk to each other, as well.

He shared that people often have the misconception that planes can just fall out of the sky like a rock. On the contrary, even in an emergency situation, a pilot can usually glide the aircraft to the ground. A plane doesn’t flap its wings like a hummingbird; it soars like an eagle. With little adjustments here and there, it uses the wind to its advantage and flies high and far.

In Isaiah 40, the author shared some insights with the pooped-out Israelites. The people were feeling weary and began murmuring about whether God even cared about them at all. In v. 30, Isaiah reminded them that even young people get tired (Amen from any college students subsisting on Red Bull & Ramen?) Later in v. 31, he says: “But those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired” (CEV).

We can’t go through life frantically flapping our wings, y’all. Believe me; I’ve tried. (Anyone else a do-it-yourselfer besides me? If I just try harder, then maybe I can make it work …) We need to learn when it’s time to exchange our hummingbird tendencies for eagle wings (by letting the Holy Spirit lift and push us forward). God doesn’t want us to be weary and barely able to function.

Now, don’t take this analogy to mean that you’ll never experience turbulence when you put your trust in the Lord. There will certainly be times when we, like the pilot, must make adjustments and maneuver through the storm, but as Matthew 5:8 reminds us – our needs are no surprise to God. He saw the turbulence coming before you even encountered it. Hold your course and keep trusting him. “The Lord gives strength to those who are weary” (Isaiah 40:29, CEV). He wants you to soar!