What Great Thing?

>> Thursday, May 5, 2011

What great thing could you attempt if you knew you could not fail? What would you do? Invent something? Write a book? Become an astronaut? Winning the ‘Tour de France’ was a great accomplishment for Lance Armstrong … after he had cancer. Climbing Mt. Shasta was a notable accomplishment for my friend Pete Rieke … after he became paralyzed from the waist down.

But what if your great thing was not a great thing to someone else? What if learning to go shopping was a great accomplishment? Or putting gas in the car? When I was about 30, I learned how to do some great things.

One Saturday the pastor’s wife, Jan, presented herself at my door. “I’m here to take your wife shopping for some new clothes,” she told my husband.

“Oh, that’s alright. She always makes her own or I buy them for her.”

“Well, I think it’s time she got to enjoy buying a dress. Don’t you think so?

“No, she just really isn’t experienced in that at all. I’ll take care of it” … and the conversation bounced back and forth.

Jan would not give up.

I was fascinated … at her audacity and the concept of having some money to spend. I’m sure my mouth flew open wide when my husband handed Jan $50 … which she promptly handed to me. $50!

At the store, I began to pick and choose, a very novel concept. I caught a brief glimpse of me as a real person, capable of selecting a garment for myself, of understanding the intricacies of dressing rooms and dealing with sales people

One dress, a pair of shoes and a purse later, we headed home.

But feeling good about the way you looked was a sin, so I really had to work on my attitude when I got dressed for church on Sunday. Pride had no place in the life of a Christian.

I walked to the living room. My husband remained silent as my children talked about how pretty I was. Was it OK to feel good about your children thinking you looked nice?

Church was over and everyone filed out the door, shaking hands with the pastor. Taking my hand in his, and seemingly oblivious to the fact someone else might hear, he told me how nice I looked. I was so embarrassed. Not raising my eyes, I mumbled a polite thank you.

As I hung the dress in the closet, I realized the depressing feeling sweeping over me was the result of being inwardly proud, even though I had tried so hard to deny the feeling. Would I ever be able to be a Christian and keep pride from my life?

How many of you thought going shopping was a trait that just came naturally to women?

My husband was suddenly called to work in another city. That meant I was left to drive the car, buy the groceries … all the things he had always done. He had never allowed me to drive … and even scarier than that, I didn’t know how to get the gasoline into the car.

The first time I needed gasoline, I pulled into a full service station. I had no idea where the gas tank was. Each visit to the station, I observed carefully and learned a little more. The day came when I felt ready to handle that very scary act by myself. As the gas flowed from pump to car, pride coursed through me and surrounded me in a glow.

I had put gasoline in the car all by myself.

I had to work for days on asking forgiveness for such pride, but each time I filled the gas tank, that pride crept right back in. Why couldn’t I keep it under control?

Those great things occurred years ago. One other great thing I accomplished was to learn to like who I am and feel no guilt about it … a huge victory. I now understand it is not a sin to feel good about me. God created me … in His image.

So back to my initial question. What great thing could you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Maybe you need to learn to drive a car … or cook. Or perhaps you need to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to another. Those steps of growth are great things.

If I could learn to drive, go shopping, put gas in the car and become a person of worth at the age of 30, what’s holding you back?

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
      the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
      human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
      and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalms 8:3-5 (NLT)


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