(TUESDAY, later that day – Reynosa, Mexico, 2006)
After lunch, when we again asked the Lord for His direction, the Spirit told me I would go to the Detention Center. The detention center was a sort of light weight, or juvenile hall. It was for young boys who were going astray, but were too young to put in the real jail. I wondered what I would be doing there. A couple of the people were making incredible connections there because they felt like their lives were similar to these boys and their testimony would really impact them. I did not feel that I had a similar background. I grew up with two parents and a sister who loved me, and really was given a silver platter in life. Holy Spirit answered me: “Play Soccer!” So I went to play soccer with the boys. I was surprised to find that these Mexican boys were not skilled soccer players. My skills, with 14 years of rust, were still better than any of theirs. This shocked me for a soccer-loving country. This is their number one sport.
After running madly the first 10 minutes of the game, I was overcome with exhaustion. I settled in on defense, running as little as possible, but I could not catch my breath. After a while I noticed that I was becoming dizzy and decided that it was best to sit. Ernie helped me to cool off and get some water and that was the end of my soccer playing. It was summertime in Mexico and I had spent the morning moving rocks on a hot roof, and the afternoon playing soccer in the hot sun. Apparently, I’m too old for this combination.
This seems like a great place to talk about pride, to talk about the deadliest and sneakiest sin. After the game, everyone got together and talked. It was important to play soccer with the boys in order to build friendship, but afterwards was the only opportunity to say something to really change the direction of these boy’s lives. And the rest of our team had just such conversations. Meanwhile, I was laying flat out on my backside trying to recover.
I had not come to Mexico to show off how good a soccer player I once was. I tend to be competitive and pride swelled in me that I was the best on the field, and I wanted to win. There’s nothing wrong with being competitive, so long as we don’t let that competition, or that pride that so often lies behind it, get the better of us. This is when we fall and are of no use to God and end in a very sad place ourselves.
I’ve been incredibly blessed to grow in the Spirit at a fast pace. What I’ve found along the way, is that many times I would achieve some new spiritual high, I have gotten swelled up with pride. Of course the reality was that I had no power over any of it, and no reason to boast. Each time it would lead to me having to take a hard fall to learn who was the bless-or, and who was the bless-ee. So I try to stay vigilant against pride creeping in because the enemy never stops looking for ways to introduce it into our hearts. Pride has destroyed the greatest of callings -King David being one example – and is a big reason that Paul instructed Timothy not to put one young of spirit into authority. As you grow in your Calling, make sure you root out all vestiges of pride. It is the one thing that can bring anyone down.
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