As I mentioned yesterday, on many occasions I recall being taught by my parents about the importance of standing alone, setting my own agenda, not trying to be something I wasn't, and above all, walking humbly with my God.
"Pride will eat you up, son. Just be what ya' are."
I cannot number the times I heard words of Scripture quoted to me that assaulted phony and faulty arrogance. Verses like:
For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think . . . . (Romans 12:3)
And Solomon's great advice:
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2).
Little did I then realize the value of such a small start in life! But I have now lived long enough to see that starting anywhere but at the bottom could have resulted in being dazzled—especially in the ministry—when snobs at the top bid me come along. No thanks. Not interested.
All this flashed back at me when I read the funny dialogue entertainer Sid Caesar includes in his autobiography, Where Have I Been? Carl Reiner, the airport reporter, is interviewing Caesar as Professor Von Houdinoff, an expert on magicians.
REINER (confused): As I understand what you're trying to explain, your book is saying that there's a connection between the illusions of magicians and what happens to people in real life.
CAESAR: You got it, fella.
REINER: Can you give me an example?
CAESAR: You vant an example of great illusionary power? . . . Hans Schnorkel . . . a Frenchman. He vas working on a trick mit a shark. So he got this shark . . . a two thousand-pound tiger shark . . . und he put that shark in a tank mit over a million gallons of sea vater . . . . Und then he stood on the side of the tank und he had himself handcuffed, behind his back . . . . There he vas, handcuffed mit just a bathing suit . . . . Und then, Hans threw himself into the tank mit the shark . . . . As soon as Hans hit the water, the shark spun around und started swimming slowly, slowly toward Hans. Und Hans, he just stood there in the tank and looked the shark right in the eye . . . . Und the shark just slowly stopped and looked Hans right back in the eye . . . . Und then, all of a sudden, the shark just rolled right over on his belly . . . und ate 'im.
REINER (incredulous): He ate him? What kind of an illusion is that?
CAESAR: It's a very good illusion . . . . But you gotta do it right. You see, don't start off rehearsing mit a shark. You start with a guppy, a goldfish, a nice herring, a piece of salmon is not bad. . . . don't get crazy mit a shark right away.
REINER: That's an interesting story, Professor, but how does it apply to real life?
CAESAR: How? You can't see? You don't make the connection?
REINER: Sorry, Professor . . . I don't.
CAESAR: If you start out too big, you could let yourself be eaten up.
Excerpt taken from Come before Winter and Share My Hope by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Featuring books for your permanent bookshelf from Charles R. Swindoll: Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React - softcover book, and Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Essential Truths for Becoming Strong in the Faith.