Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Godless Arrogance

Psalm 139:21(MSG)
See how I hate those who hate you, God, see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;

I sheepishly climbed into the back of the van and slumped down in the seat.  I stared out the window at my "Western" sister on her mountain bike as she rode off in the distance with the rest of the pack.  How could this be?  I was supposed to be the one with all of the sporty ability!

I reviewed in my head what had led to this point.  It started with her invitation to join her on a trip to Hawaii.  It had been a dream come true for me!  The timing was perfect as I was single and had a great job with benefits and vacation time coming up.  She wanted to go to Maui and experience all that the island had to offer.  Everything had come together so smoothly that I knew it was a "no brainer" to snatch up the offer.    

When we got there, it was even more beautiful than the pictures could have told.  The island was covered in lush palm trees, green vegetation, and boldly colored flowers.  Sounds of tropical birds singing and the smell of sweet flowers filled the air.  I suddenly understood the term "Island Paradise".  We quickly gathered up all of the brochures for various activities and penned our list of "must do's". 

Topping the list, of course, was to attend a Luau.  We both easily agreed on that.  Next, we started noticing the more "adventurous" items, for instance learning to wind surf, sailing on a catamaran, snorkeling excursions, and biking down Haleakala...the volcano crater on the island.  I cheered us on and assured her that we were "fit and able to do all of it".  She wasn't as confident as I was, but agreed to try.  I again encouraged her that we could do anything we set our minds too. 

It all had gone so smoothly....from the windsurfing lessons to the incredible day on the sailboat.....until the trip to the crater that is.  We were picked up early in the morning, before the light of day, to travel up the mountain in a large (seemed top heavy to me) van.  Did I tell you that I am extremely afraid of heights?
Every curve we went around I was certain that it was going to be our last as I envisioned the speeding vehicle (topping speeds of up to 30 mph mind you) careening over the edge of the cliff.  I white knuckled it all the way up that thing let me tell you!  Did I mention that I am extraordinarily apprehensive when it comes to perpendicular distance?

My sister on the other hand started the day quite insecure with the physical part of the bike ride.  I told her I would take care of her and make sure that they knew of her "limitations".  I began by telling the leader all the way up the mountain that "my sister might not be able to make the whole ride."  I explained that "I wouldn't have any trouble, cuz I'm a runner and I ride my bike all the time...etc...etc...".  Do you recall that I am seriously anxious when it comes to upward elevation?

By the time we finally got to the top of the "hole", as I lovingly call it now, I had the leaders totally convinced that my "poor sister" was going to need a papoose to be carried down the mountain wrapped up like a baby.  I was most assuredly that obnoxious. 

We all exited the van upon arrival at the summit.  We stood dutifully in awe of the view from the top of this massively high and deep crevasse that the sun was now rising up from....yes...the sun was lower than the crater...or so it seemed to me, and then we put on our riding gear.  Keep in mind that anything over three feet is too high for me!  (It was a beautiful sight to that I  look back at the pictures from my ground level house.)

Beginning with the donning of our helmets and ending with the snapping of our leg covers, we were off....or some of us were off anyway.  I started with a wavering push from my foot, but it seemed to be stuck in cement.  I looked down to identify what in the world I had stepped in, but was shocked to find there was nothing there.  Curiously I tried again.  There...I got the bike to move and pushed forward.  I pedaled and attempted to steer down the road, but with each progression forward, fear crept into my bones like a spilled jar of molasses.  Cue the card that says...."She has a deathly fear of lofty places." 

Meanwhile, the rest of my group were ripping the roadway apart creating a very large gap for me to close.  My poor "frail sister" stayed back with me to try to coax me down the path.  All the while, I could hear the engine humming along right behind me.  It was the van that brought us up here.  It was also the van that would cart anyone down the mountain that was too weak to complete the trip. 

Finally, after having accumulated such a distance between me and all the other riders that I could no longer see them, the head guy poked his head out of the van and said, "Hey, you need to speed up a little bit."  Oh....Ok....I need to speed I didn't already know that!  I willed my legs to pump faster, but with each stride I felt like a force was drawing me off the edge of the road and down the mountain's edge!  I squeezed my breaks even harder.  That's when it happened!!  I froze in the middle of the road like an glass of water in the sitting in Antarctica.  I simply stopped dead in the center of the road.  I could not will my bike one more inch.  The van pulled up and told me that they were very sorry, but I would have to ride down the mountain in the van.  I was "holding up their progress." 

Webster's Dictionary defines arrogance as being full of pride.  Pride is defined as: "An unduly high opinion of oneself."  Yep that pretty well sums up that little experience.  I know first hand what godless arrogance is because arrogance by it's very nature is always without God.  It is focusing on ME instead of HE.  It is inflating my own abilities rather than giving glory to God for the talents He has blessed me with and confidently sharing them with others, while keeping God at the center.

Hana Highway bridge over Oheo Gulch
Hana Highway

I'm praying tonight that I won't have anymore "mountain top" experiences where I arrogantly think more "highly of myself than I ought."  Did I mention that being on tall things makes me tremble?

Stay tuned for a post on my honeymoon trip to Maui and our visit to Hana per the "Hana Highway" (pictured to the right).  A true test of my husband's depth of love and patience for me that's for certain!!

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