Pride and Punishment

I know we’ve all had an occasion where we have sat in church and felt like the pastor/teacher was speaking directly to us with a particular message.  Today was one of those days for me.  Plain and simple, God rocked my reality today.  I expected it to an extent.  It had already been a rough morning and that is always a sure sign that I need to be in church.  And those are the days I am most nervous to walk through the door.  And, He is usually very gracious — gently nudging me.  Today in his graciousness, he whacked me with a two by four.  And, I am sincere when I say it was gracious….because it is exactly what I needed.

It started with a conversation with a friend – he was telling me about an area in his life that God had been speaking into and healing him.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized that God was holding up a mirror to me as if to say “This is you, Stephanie.  And, I can heal you too”.

So, I’m already weepy and the music hasn’t even started.  It’s going to be a long morning.

The teaching was from Acts 2….and the discussion centered around how the disciples of Christ formed a community that’s sole purpose was to spread the gospel. There was a lot more than that, but  as I was listening, God was telling me that I’m never going to be able to do any of what he has created me for until I get out of the way and stop being so prideful.   I have spent a lot of time judging others for being prideful and here I am….maybe the worst among them.

It brought to mind the story of King Nebuchadnezzar who had a super sized ego that God finally tired of.  The Lord had warned King Neb through a startling dream that his puffed-up pride would cost him if he didn’t change his ways. But, he continued to pat himself on the back, declaring in Daniel 4:30:  “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”

God responds swiftly, “While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.  Daniel 4:31-33

He went crazy.  Stark raving mad for 7 years.  He was cut back to a stump (just like the dream said he would be).  And, then…in his graciousness, God restored him.

I remember hearing someone talk about this passage once saying that this was a lesson you wanted to learn in the classroom and not on a field trip.  I laughed and thought, “Yeah, I think I’ve got that one – God isn’t going to have to teach me not to be prideful”.

But, here I am — feeling like I’ve been cut down to a stump.  Realizing that the areas that I have felt “attacked” is just me allowing myself to be attacked by not repenting of my sin.  And, instead of taking any responsibility, I have just been acting like a victim.  But, God has shown me my sin and what I need to do.  And He has promised me that He will help me.  And, that is very good news because I cannot do it alone.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar Stephanie praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. –Daniel 4:36

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