HUMILITY AND SACRIFICE INSTEAD OF PRIDE
I stood frozen, standing on a 45-degree slope, a 45-pound backpack secured to my back, moving scree rock echoing under each step and all around my feet, with a steep cliff one half of a football field away from me. I had no control over my footing and knew that one more step was going to send me sliding out of control toward the cliff…and…I…froze.
“Leslie, are you stuck?”
Someone noticed that I was stuck and reached out a hand to help me. But, I didn’t want to admit that I was absolutely stuck, frozen to the sliding earth. I knew that I couldn’t safely navigate the twelve short feet in front of me. So I had to admit defeat. I was stuck and I needed help. It was time to practice 1 Peter 5:5, “Clothe yourself in humility.”
Soon after, two hikers behind me got stuck in the same spot I did. As a result, the whole group had to change course. Read that again: my inability to move stopped the forward progress of those behind me. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. (Proverbs 16:18)
We opted to go back, away from the scree that danced under our feet, and we encountered significant obstacles even on our new route. But on this new path, we were a new team. When I surrendered my pride and humbly accepted help to move off a dangerous slope, the Lord created an avalanche inside the hearts of three people who were also stuck. When our collective and individual weakness was exposed, God’s strength pulled us together. We no longer moved as four individuals but as one unit.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)
HUMILITY AND SACRIFICE IN COMMUNITY
We were made to be in community with one another and to navigate life together. It’s much easier to navigate a challenging ‘slope’ together than to do it alone.
I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that less than four days later, I would find myself on a different mountain, on a different slope, with a completely different crew of people, and encounter the exact same situation. Only this time I got to sacrifice my safety, reach out my hand, and help someone else who was stuck. The cycle of humility and sacrifice continued. At this moment, the hand-crafted God-sized lesson didn’t escape me.
When motivated by love, an act of sacrifice for God’s eternal purpose never returns void.
Take a moment to read John 12:1-8.
The story of Mary anointing Jesus with perfume is a story of sacrifice and humility. The perfume-filled alabaster jar that Mary used to clean Jesus’ feet was expensive, it had to be cracked open, and it had to be broken. It was both cherished and sacrificial to use, arguably to the people in the room, even wasteful. So, when she used this perfume, including her tears and her hair as a cloth to wipe his feet, Mary offered her complete humility.
What I find so compelling is Jesus’ response to her worshipful sacrifice. While Mary, a sinful woman, was being shamed by the Pharisees in the room for her former sins and current actions, she was adored by Jesus and publicly forgiven. Her humility and sacrifice did not return void.
HUMILITY AND SACRIFICE
I stood frozen, and a sacrificial hand was extended to me. Days later, a participant in my group stood frozen, and I extended the same hand. The storyline may have looked different but the parallel details that connect both events are humility and sacrifice. In these experiences, our sacrifice didn’t mean that we gave something up for nothing. The pleasure of completing the planned route was given up for something worth so much more: community.
The sacrifice made for me became the sacrifice I made for another. The God of the universe creates a ripple in the water among his people and as we embrace opportunities to sacrifice, may we all be like Mary, so in love with the eternal Father and his eternal purpose that any sacrifice we offer is an immediate response motivated by love alone.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)
Think about a time when you had to be humble and receive help. How did God work through that situation?
Questions For Reflection
1. When have you been frozen and unable to move forward? Did someone extend a sacrificial hand to you?
2. When have you been able to offer a sacrificial hand to a fellow traveler on this pilgrimage through life?
3. Is there someone in your life today who needs a sacrificial hand? Could you offer them yours?
Leslie is a Platoon 19 graduate, a Lead Instructor for RevWild and a Shepherd for Rim to Him Grand Canyon crossings. She loves hiking, backpacking, and cycling and creates opportunities to share the hope God offers in the wilderness to anyone willing to say “yes”. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.
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