O Lord of grace and mercy, teach us by Your Holy Spirit to follow the example of Your Son in true humility, that we may withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds avoid ungodly pride; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Not long after we had arrived at my second parish in southern Oregon, a member of the congregation offered us the use of his canoe. We happily set off for a few days of camping and canoeing at a large lake in the mountains east of town. Soon after we arrived, we were down at the water’s edge with our life jackets on and paddles in hand. The canoe was large. I had spent some time in canoes as a child and my parents had a little lake on their property with a small boat and a canoe, so I knew what was involved. I took the rear seat, my six-year-old son took the front spot and my wife and two-year-old daughter sat in the middle. We had a wonderful time. My son was a very good rower, and the lake was calm.
We returned to the dock, and everyone got out except me. My plan was to propel the boat toward the sandy shore where we could pull it out of the water. But when the canoe suddenly was lightened, it tipped to the right, I over-corrected to the left, and, before I knew it, I had flipped the silly thing over in four feet of water. Soaked and to the uncontrollable laughter of my wife and children, I sheepishly pulled it up onto the shore. The great canoeist had come down a few notches.
We pray that God teaches us to follow Jesus in true humility. It is not much fun to learn humility. I thought I was the expert. I was not. It is good to follow Jesus’ example of humility. He was never too high to help the low, never too pure to forgive the wicked, and never too busy to stop and heal a leper, blind person, or the lame. Sometimes we all might need a good dunking to remind us of that. Of course, lessons in humility are ongoing. That evening, after I had dried off and we had gone for walk and eaten something, we trooped back down the lake. There was a little teasing about whether dad would get wet again. I was just pushing the canoe into the water when the door to a nearby camper burst open. An old codger came busting out to talk to me. “Hey, are you gonna flip that canoe again? If so, I’m getting’ my video camera, that was the funniest thing I have ever seen.” Don’t worry. God has many ways of teaching us humility.