There is a place, somewhere else, that looks better to us than where we are…A ladder to climb to reach success, which usually shows itself with dollar signs, or trophies, or the adoration of other people. We elevate personal ambition and accomplishment, idolize individualism, sacrifice greatly in the making a name for oneself, and regard those who have attained some level of discernible success as being better than those who have not. There are pursuits and dreams that promise greatness, but fail to actually live up to their hype. Perhaps they do provide money, acclaim, and the esteem of others, but greatness? I’m not convinced.
Still, I’ve longed for that place, somewhere else. For the regard of others. For my name in lights, so to speak. To be valiant and daring, and out there to win it. Whatever it is. And it seems only natural for us to want to reach up for whatever waits up there outside of our grasp. Of course we want to succeed. And we want our children to succeed. But what is real success? Are the true heroes the ones who hold trophies over their heads or have larger-than-life public personas? Are the people with lots of credentials attached to their names more important than others? And how much pressure do we put on ourselves or our children to be great, when we have greatness all wrong?
When we are reaching up and our personal gain becomes the object of our worship, we lose sight of the truth and spend ourselves to build and maintain our own glory…an exhausting and impossible task. Eventually the arms become tired and the golden world we were holding spins out of control and off its axis, right down to the depths where true greatness lies…in the surrender of ourselves for the glory of Someone else.
We don’t attain greatness by moving upward. Greatness comes by being made low. By cultivating the fields given us with care and respect and diligence. By taking hold of simplicity and applying ourselves to hard work, in the humblest way. In the upside-down world of Jesus, heroes look more like servants than giants, moguls, or celebrities. Heroes look like mommies and daddies who empty themselves for the good of their children…giving love and grace and goodness. Heroes look like nurses and soldiers and missionaries and teachers, who spend their lives pouring themselves out for others to be filled up…in the process, hopefully discovering the greatest purpose there is for life…to bring more life and goodness.
If you don’t feel like you’re ever going to make it to the top of the ladder, you might consider taking the shortcut to the low place. Cut the strings that bind you to the struggle to make yourself important, and find the place of peace inside the heart of God who loves the humble heart. Blessing from God flows down and collects in the lowest places. Thats where I want to be.