Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Lesson in Humility

Cedar Point is an amusement park in Ohio; think Six Flags on steroids.  While I've visited the park since childhood, the Point Fest concert series was introduced to me by a student at Michigan State University.

Point Fest is a Christian concert offered after a day in the park.  Both my time in the park, and at the concert taught valuable lessons. I learned, again, the importance of humility.

Roller coasters foment hubris: the first drop, bragging rights and souvenirs. This year I was humbled shortly after entering the park when students entrusted me with their stuff: sweatshirts, souvenirs, maps and purses.  Their trust evaporated my roller coaster opportunities.

While they progressed from ride to ride, I followed from bench to bench.  "I didn't drive three hours to carry stuff and sit on benches!"  In frustration, my afternoon highlights became finding benches under trees.    In quiet tones, I heard the Lord say, "I came much further to do much worse on your behalf."

Jesus came to hold all of my sins on the cross while I boasted of my ability to live without Him.  Students reminded me of Christ's humility:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

Carrying stuff provided a lesson on humility.  Abandoning my agenda lifted my gaze.  After dozens of amusement park visits, for the first time, I saw the grandparents rearing children; I saw the wheelchairs and crutches; I saw the 10:1 child to adult ratios that were some children's only way into the park; I saw the extensive security network; I saw families investing in their one indulgence for the year.

Humility opened my eyes to see old things in a new way.  Rather than protest, I began to volunteer.  I used the maps I was holding to help seniors on scooters find their destinations; I encouraged frustrated stuff holders by mentioning Jesus; I thanked unseen security guards for their vigilance; I served by keeping the stuff organized and neat.  I wanted to carry stuff the way Jesus carried His cross: for love's sake.

The evening concert of Jesus music humbled me further.  Reduced to weeping gratitude, I realized the Lord sent students to teach me what I thought I already knew.  As they snapped pictures and sang along, I whispered prayers of thanksgiving for a day without a single roller coaster ride.

Roller coasters sometimes stir up pride in me.  I am thankful for the outreach effort at Michigan State University.  Because of the work of Connection, I am being discipled by the very students I've been entrusted.

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