Playing the Fool
“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
My most humiliating experience EVER was the day I addressed the faculty, students, board members and friends of my seminary on the occasion of the fifty-year anniversary of its founding. I had been asked to speak on the subject: “What We Can Expect From Our Culture In The Next Ten Years.” Why they asked me to speak on that topic I will never know. I’m not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet.
I approached the lectern that morning with my manuscript in hand and looked out on a sea of a thousand or more friendly faces, but my eye then fell on a row of distinguished professors seated on the front row, garbed in academic capes and gowns and looking very serious. I immediately took leave of my senses.
My mouth dried up and detached itself from my brain. I fumbled the first few sentences of my lecture and then for some inexplicable reason, I began to extemporize. Then, since, I had no idea where I was in the manuscript, I began to turn pages frantically, looking for my place, while talking a line of nonsense that baffled everyone. The perigee came when one of my professors put his pen and notepad away and closed his eyes. I hoped against hope that he was praying for me.
Somehow, I made it through the rest of the lecture, crept back to my chair, sat down in it (though I wanted to crawl under it) and stared at the floor. The emcee got up and mumbled, “That was….um…an interesting example of…um…exposition.”
I wanted to die.
I must say, however that humiliation is good for the soul if it leads us to humble ourselves, for humility is the key that opens God’s heart. He himself has said, “This is the man to whom I look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). God resists the proud, but he cannot resist the humble. He showers them with grace.
Humiliation and shame bring us to God for his shaping. When we fall, we have fallen into his hands.