An attitude of humility is always wise. I recently learned that lesson again.
On Monday evening, May 20, I umpired a Palmer Little League baseball game with St. John member, Bim Hoylman. While I was assigned to this game by league officials, there was a family connection. My grandson, Jake, was on the visiting team. I turned around between innings saw another grandson, Henry, Jake’s brother, running to a lady sitting in a chair behind home plate. Henry was talking to this lady. Now, I had texted my wife, Kathy, and thought she might come to the game. There was a breeze, so this lady behind home plate wore a hoody that covered most of her head. But, her glasses looked like my wife’s glasses. She was sitting in a chair like one we have. I said to Henry in what I thought was a joking manner, somewhat loudly, “Who’s that woman you’re talking to?” I confess, I thought that maybe I hadn’t recognized my wife. Well, the lady behind home plate was not my wife, Kathy. The lady looked surprised at my words. I explained my mistake to her, and I saw others in the stands smiling at my mistake.
It wasn’t too long before Kathy showed up. I told her what I had done, to some more chuckles in the stands. She said, “You mistook someone else for me and, you are the umpire? So, how is the game going?” (Umpires have been accused of being blind, haven’t they?) It’s good to be humble.a
This wasn’t the first time I’ve spoken to someone because I thought I knew them, but then found out they were actually total strangers. Maybe I’m friendly, or foolish. But, I’ve made mistakes like that all my life. But this mistake included my own wife! Yikes! Some folks say I remember names well. But, I confess, sometimes I don’t always recognize faces. When this happens, I have learned to confess my mistakes and to say that I’m sorry. I think I have learned that I can be wrong at times in my judgements, to be humble.
In Scriptures God calls us to humility. He calls us to admit our faults and weaknesses, and not to place ourselves above others. When it comes to understanding the Lord, there is a good reason for humility. Listen to God’s lesson on humility in Isaiah. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Because God is greater and higher than we are, we should not expect to understand everything about Him, or how the Lord works. We are called to be humble, to admit that we don’t have all the answers.
For example, when Jesus came to this world the religious leaders of His time thought they understood God’s plans. They thought they understood who the Messiah would be and what He would do. But, these men who thought they knew God, did not recognize Jesus. As God told Isaiah, “. . .my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” It is good to be humble, especially when talking about who the Lord is and how He works in our world.
Judgment Day is another topic of mystery. Jesus taught His disciples, 36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. . . 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:36,44) So, concerning end times, Jesus teaches that we always need to be ready, to be believing and living our faith, because we don’t know when they end will come. But, in my life I can count at least 10 times that religious leaders have named the day Jesus would return. Every time these public proclamations were made, they were wrong. As God told Isaiah, “. . . my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” It is good to be humble.
The greatest mystery in the world is our Lord Himself. How did God create? Why do the children of a holy God struggle with evil? Why would God send His Son, Jesus? How can Jesus be both the son of God and the son of Mary? Why would the Son of God, God Himself — the author of life, die on a cross? How could Jesus rise from the dead? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that the ways of the Lord are a mystery. “21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25) The cross of Jesus raises many questions. Or, as God told Isaiah, “. . .my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” It is good to be humble.
When was the last time life taught you humility? A number of people in the stands at Monday night’s baseball game had a good chuckle at my mistake, and I re-learned a lifelong lesson, that it is good to be humble. When it comes to knowing God, there are some truths we find in Scripture which we can understand. But there are some teachings about God that are beyond our understanding. All we can do is believe. In these situations we are called to confess the truth of God’s word, but also to humbly admit what we do not totally understand about our Lord. As God told Isaiah, “. . . my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” It is good to be humble!