By ANNIE WESCHE
For thus says the High and lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
I have to get out of here, I thought. I was standing dead center in a packed auditorium, surrounded by exuberant students who had just closed the final curtain on their senior theatrical production. Voices hummed all around me as friends and family offered congratulatory praise to the night’s performers. I was there to support a friend in the production, and had been thoughtfully invited to share the evening with her family. But with the play now finished, all I could think of was a quick exit. I set a bouquet of flowers into my friend’s arms, extended a smile with some congratulatory sentiments, offered hurried goodbyes to her and her family, and made a beeline for the nearest door. I raced to my car and slipped quickly into the driver’s seat, slamming the door — as if slamming the door could somehow close the book on the evening … and how I’d behaved.
I sat there for a moment, temporarily relieved from all the previous noise of the evening. But my conscience was soon handed a megaphone and the Holy Spirit set a giant spotlight dead center on my heart. I squeezed my eyes shut and inwardly thought, Maybe I can just move past tonight and be better. I’m not proud of how I behaved, but no one else probably even noticed … Ugh, why do I feel this way?
But I knew. I knew full well — the miserable feeling was the consuming discomfort of heavy conviction.
At the start of the evening, I had taken my own personal stage and spoken with such pride. As I was introduced by my friend’s parents to several new people, I leapt at the opportunity to speak about myself. As they asked questions, I shared everything I knew would draw their interest — the “highlights” that always seemed to gain approval. I was praised — from my outfit and dimples to my occupations and ministry ventures — and I liked it. I was quick to speak and slow to listen. I feigned humility at their kind words, but inwardly, I reveled in their good opinion of me and delighted in their attention.
Ugh, I was so horrible … what ugly, ugly pride, I thought, sitting in the darkness of the parking lot.
After several troubling minutes passed, I was suddenly aware that there was another’s presence in the car with me. He was there — the One who knew my innermost thoughts and could see the pride of my heart long before it ever passed through my lips. Jesus. I began to panic, not wanting Him to know about how I’d behaved or smell the stench of my pride. But I knew it was impossible to hide. Conviction fell on me like a tidal wave and tears flooded my eyes. It only took a moment before I acknowledged Him there and cried out to Him. But rather than being met with disgust — exactly what I was feeling over my sinful attitude and behavior — His gaze held tender love and pained compassion.
People were beginning to exit the theater, so I started up my car and pulled out of the parking lot onto the road home. We drove in silence for a long time while I absorbed the reality of my harmful pride and grew sick with shame. It was then that He gently drew near and whispered, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2). I felt His Fatherly love and calmed under His authority as He continued to speak, “My child, I resist the proud, but give grace to the humble. Boast no more so very proudly and do not let arrogance come out of your mouth. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips.” (See 1 Peter 5:5; 1 Samuel 2:3; Proverbs 27:2.)
As I drove the road home and God’s Word continued to come to mind, it was just as real as if He was physically sitting beside me and speaking audibly. His words led me unto repentance, and I melted before Him, weeping and earnestly asking for forgiveness.
I pulled into my driveway and sat there, gazing up through the moonroof at all the shimmering stars, with tears still rolling down my face. As I beheld His majesty in that night sky, I felt as though He was drawing me up with Him into the very heavens as He declared, “All these things My hand has made, and so all these things are Mine,” He said, “but this is the one to whom I will look, the one that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (See Isaiah 66:2.)
“Lord Jesus,” I yearned aloud, “How do I truly live this out? I want to have a humble heart.”
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourself.” He then turned His loving spotlight on my desire to be held in high esteem of others, rather than esteeming the lives and needs of those around me. He showed me that I had given a high place in my heart to pursuing the world’s good opinion of my accomplishments, style, and beauty. “For all that is in this world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. My child, the world is passing away, but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” (See Philippians 2:3 and 1 John 2:16–17.)
Before going inside I soaked a bit longer in His forgiving embrace and felt peace return to my heart.
/ / /
This may have taken place many years ago, but the story above was pieced together from my journal entry on that very night, and the impact of its memory is still so wonderfully clear. It may not have been the audible voice of God that filled my car, but there was the powerful, real voice of His Word. Verses hidden in my heart since childhood were brought to mind by the Holy Spirit to bring much-needed conviction, repentance, and restoration in my life.
As I look back, I am sobered by the contrary message we hear in our world today. You won’t hear the world encouraging a path of humility or reminding you to consider others better than yourself. Selfish ambition is applauded and “love yourself first” is the slogan of our day. Yet, this world is passing away and its ever-changing trends and popular opinions will not last. The Word of our Lord stands forever! And life in Jesus — walking in His ways and finding our worth in His life — not only leads us in triumph in this world, but prepares us for our eternity with Him!
Dear reader, may you and I be willing and ready to welcome the megaphone of conviction and the spotlight of His Word to shine into any hidden corner of our lives needing to let His light in — dare I say, we even pray for it! For it is indeed a wonderfully loving spotlight.