F. B. Meyer said, “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we should reach them. I find now that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other, and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower, and that we have to go down, always down, to get His benefits.”
I was introduced to this revelation while reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It is “the gift that keeps on giving” and continues to inform my faith and its practice. No matter what I am talking about or writing about, her words seem to find their way into the conversation. I thought that I would be done with it by now. I closed the book more than a month ago. But, here we are again. Open. Applicable. Teaching.
And this time, I am thinking about humility. How much of our lives is about climbing, reaching, aspiring, moving up? We are always trying to get to the top of something: the top of our class, the top of the pile, the top of the ladder. We are always reaching up, scratching, scraping, hand over hand for rungs, another notch in our belt, another step closer to this position or that title.
It is all about going higher. But, Christ’s command is something different. He’s always reversing things: “the last will be first and the first will be last,” “bless those that curse you,” a child will do the leading (Matthew 20.16; Luke 6.28; Isaiah 11.6). When the world tells us that we have made it, God reminds us that we never really arrive. The world says, “Go higher” but God says, “Go down. Go lower.”
It is my prayer this morning that we would unwrap the gift of humility. It is in a barn, surrounded by animals. It does not smell so good and it’s in a feeding trough.
It doesn’t have a bow on it. It’s not in the penthouse suite. It does not come with a corner office or a pay increase. But, you don’t have to reach for it. You have to bend for it. Perhaps, you think that you are down, that you are humble enough but God reminds us through the birth of His Son, Jesus that we could always go lower.