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May 2024

Nudgings #55 - May 19 "Old Wet Tennis Shoes"


Old Wet Tennis Shoes

All of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. (1 Peter 5:5-6, NLT)

According to the Apostle Peter, what we wear matters. And he isn’t talking about power suits and skinny jeans; he’s talking about pride and humility. The manner in which we conduct ourselves affects our relationships and interactions, both with God and with others. Pride is a non-conductor, an insulator that inhibits our connection with God and those around us; whereas humility, as exemplified by Jesus, serves as the conduit in our lives through which God powerfully impacts the world with His love.

As a kid growing up on my Grandad’s farm, I learned a valuable lesson about electricity and conductivity that I believe applies to Peter’s admonition to “dress yourselves in humility.”

At the time, I was wearing a pair of old wet tennis shoes.

In the midst of a busy day of feeding and milking cows, irrigating fields, and maintaining farm equipment, my grandad and I spent some time after lunch mending fence. The tools and materials we needed for the job were in the back of the old farm truck. My grandad asked me to back the rig up to an area of fence that needed some work. Eagerly I complied, but ended up getting the truck a bit too close to the fence—and it was an electric fence.

When my grandad let down the pickup's tailgate it was lying on top of the electric fence wire. My grandad, clad in rubber irrigation boots was unperturbed. He placed one hand on the bed of the pickup and, with a mischievous grin, beckoned me over, extending his weathered hand.

"Grab hold," he said, his eyes twinkling. Obliging and clueless, I squished over to him in my old wet tennis shoes. I reached out, took his hand, and completed the circuit. A jolt of electricity shocked us both!

Grandad's laughter filled the air. Despite the tingling sensation coursing through my veins, I couldn't help but join in. It was a moment of delightful levity, a lesson learned about conductivity, and a metaphor for life.

Pride is a non-conductor. Just as the rubber tires and boots shielded the pickup and my grandad from the electric charge, so too does pride insulate us from the flow of empathy, compassion, and connection with others. Pride stems from thinking too highly of ourselves, and our achievements and circumstances. Pride quenches the Spirit—extinguishing the spark, power, and life of God in our lives. It creates a barrier between us and God and the world around us.

Humility, on the other hand, connects us to God and others, and it is the pathway through which God’s power, grace, goodness, and blessing are realized in our lives. Jesus is our model—the Son of God, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, “… made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!" (Phil. 2:7-8, NIV)

God extends His hand to us—and to the world around us—through humility. So, as you go about your day, remember Peter’s words and “dress yourselves in humility.” Put on your old wet tennis shoes and step into the world. You might find the outcome delightfully shocking.