So I was jogging yesterday morning feeling like the ministry equivalent of Tarzan. For those worried about whether it is safe to walk in the Winney Hill/Claygate Common area without being exposed to more of me than is helpful before breakfast (or any meal for that matter) - I was not dressed like Tarzan!
The reason I felt like the bare chested vine swinger was that I had a tough day ahead, but I had decided that I was man enough for the job. Particularly challenging would be the meeting where I had to face up to another man and challenge him about something. But, as I said, I was man enough for the job!
As I pondered my superior manliness I suddenly felt my right foot turn awkwardly. With a sickening crunch my ankle gave way and I fell to the ground. I started making some very unmanly noises. I knew that I'd sprained it reasonably badly.
I got up and started hobbling down the hill towards the car park at Claygate Common. I spotted a "lady of Claygate" out walking her Spaniel. I waved in a welcoming but distressed way. From the way that I walked with the gait of Long John Silver and from the blood running down from my knee into my sock, she spotted something as wrong. She was lovely, but had left her mobile at home. After a discussion about what she could do to help, involving hailing down two passing "lady of Claygate" joggers whose close fitting lycra did not allow for phone storage, I decided that I should hobble home. The ankle was easing up and remember... I am man enough for the job.
As I walked back I made suitably "man in pain" grunting sounds, whilst I reflected on how manly I was walking a mile with an "almost broken" ankle. I was being amazed at how quickly I could walk in pain - when suddenly my left foot caught the edge of a pot hole and turned and I found myself flat on my face outside a stable block, hoping no one had seen my descent.
I no longer felt manly. Just stupid. Fortunately I had no further injuries. So humbled, I hobbled home reflecting that if I was a real man I would probably be able to walk without falling over.
The Bible says "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)
Time and time again I have found that, in His kindness, when I am getting a bit big for my boots, God brings me down to earth. Not always literally!
Because the mark of a true man is not self-congratulatory security, but rather Christ dependent humility. The humility of knowing that you are a weak sinner who has been rescued by a great saviour.
I had that demonstrated to me later in the day. Remember that tricky meeting? I was told that the bloke involved had already been in touch with the other person concerned and apologised unreservedly for his behaviour. That's manly.
When we met it was a wonderful time of repentance, forgiveness and mutual encouragement. The repentance and forgiveness that only the love of God in Jesus makes possible, by the power of His Spirit in our hearts.
I found myself welling up as we talked. I'll leave you to decide whether that's manly or not...