When I was in third grade, I received my first academic award. It was actually an award for a regional writing contest, and I wrote about pollution in a creek. I received both a trophy and the praise of people that I loved. More awards came later, and I began to define my value through academic achievement.
Just like with any talent or gift, there was nothing wrong with the exercise of the gift itself. The problem in my case was that I began to use the gifts given by my Creator as a replacement for trusting my Creator. I would have told you that my favorite verse was “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding“(Proverbs 3:5). I was not actually doing that, though. I was indeed leaning on my own understanding, looking to my own academic abilities in times when I just needed to submit to God.
At the center of this incongruence in my life was my pride. It was not the case at all that I thought I was better or smarter than other people. It was an issue of trying to rely on my own abilities and even essentially arguing with God at times. Any time we place our own ability before God’s ability, we are acting out of pride. And just like a Proverbs prediction, it did not go well for me.
I was tortured in my mind. It was a silent battle that very few knew about. It exacted a price on my physical health. At one point, I truly felt like I was going to lose my mind. God had to show me that He could take away the one thing I prided myself on.
So I say to you, “Let it go.” Whenever you find yourself having to choose between holding on to some area of pride or submitting to God, let go of the pride! In life, that will be the wise decision to make every single time.
There is a story that Preacher McLeroy told in youth camp years ago that I have never forgotten. He told about a method used to catch monkeys in the wild (look up “Monkey Trap”). The trap can be a simple coconut or gourd that has been hollowed out. Some treat like a nut or piece of fruit is placed inside the trap. A monkey can fit his hand through a hole in order to grasp the treat. With the treat in his fist, however, the monkey cannot remove his hand from the trap. Suddenly encumbered but unwilling to release the treat, the monkey can then be caught with a net or trapped in a cage.
The monkey loses his freedom because he is unwilling to let go of something that he wants. It was a temporary trap from which he could have easily escaped with one simple action. I do not ever want you to lose your freedom, your joy, your relationships, your reputation, your peace…simply because your pride will not allow you to let go of something that has you trapped.
God’s plan was not for me to abandon my gifts. He wants me to use them for Him and to help others. But I could not be used until I was willing to do things His way. And that makes much better sense for my life, since He knows everything and since He loves everyone around me with a perfect love while my love remains imperfect.
If you remember how God views pride, it will keep you humble. Always agree with God, and be ready to let go. You are my child and I always desire for you to have wonderful gifts and experiences. I would never ask you to give up something unless I know it is for your well-being and safety. How much greater is the wisdom and care of a perfect heavenly Father.
“For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” C.S. Lewis
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
I love you forever,