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End of an Odyssey

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, 
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Eccelesiastes 7:8 

That was our family’s van. The Odyssey had graced our lives for the past six years, since we’d been a two-child family. Apart from some electric door issues our Honda had been a very trusty, comfy, and utilitarian vehicle. It hauled all: bikes, boards, barrels, boys.  Until last Thursday.
Maybe I’m too introspective.  Or starving for material. Either way, I’ve been doing some analysis. After the immediate shock of slamming into the white pine alongside our driveway, I felt guilty. After Gabe’s tears subsided and he stopped crying, “My head hurts.” When Sam brushed the glass chips off his lap and asked for a book to read, when I noticed countless glass shards glittering up at me, then I grew dizzy with guilt.

I felt no specific pinpoint prick of conscience, mind you, but a nebulous sense of moral failure. Of weakness and frailty and guilt.  And embarrassment. That kicked in the moment I turned to wave Sam’s onlooking bus driver down the road. Then dread of tell my dear, hard-working husband. But the guilt was dominant.

Just call it a (very costly without collision coverage) mistake. An accident and move on, right? But I can’t.

Our Thursday morning routine had devolved into a mad rush.  In order to get Sam to school by 9:30, his piano lesson had to start at 8:20. I arose just early enough to work-out with Bob Harper via DVD, sit for breakfast with boys, dress and maybe slap on some blush, and dash out the door by 8. Then, the race was on: piano, Sam to school, Bible study, library, and groceries all before lunch. Minimal margin.

What was the divine instruction I was to take from my grand smash-up?  What was the lesson?  The root sin to be mortified?

I know, I know. Driver’s Ed 101: Always look behind you before you back up.  No doubt! But failure to look behind is just the tip of the iceberg.

Was it impatience? No denying I was in a hurry. Or that I morphed into a cowherd every Thursday morning, driving the boys to the van like unruly cattle.

I confess my sinful impatience to my merciful Lord. Guilt lingers. Go deeper.

Clearly selfcontrol was lacking.  Maybe that was the lesson?  Pulling down the driveway as I had was definitely rash. The discipline of looking over my shoulder clearly wasn’t in place. Nope-not deep enough.

I plumb the depths. Search me, O God, and know my thoughts. Try my and know my anxious ways.  See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlastingHe shows me a wicked way. I go deeper than my destructive impatience and excessive speed and see what slammed the van into the tree.

Now I see it, and it makes me shudder. I see a proud, haughty face that is mine. Maybe it was the kind of reflection good King Hezekiah had in the moments the Babylonian envoys left Jerusalem, after he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses.  Maybe guilt akin to mine settled in even before Isaiah had a word for him.

But, pride you wonder? Yes, pride. I could have risen 15 minutes earlier to get my work-out in.  Or cut out 15 minutes from it. Adequate margin for sure. But, no, I want my full exercise time. Or, I could just arrive late and apologize to the piano teacher. But, that apology would hurt. I had assured her this before school time was perfect! I said we’d be there at 8:20 and, by golly, we would!

It’s all image, Abigail. You want to look good- physically and spiritually. That rush you get from achieving- fitness, skills in my children, moral rectitude.  A righteous man swears to his own hurt, I quote. Pride is inordinate self-esteem.  Uh-huh.  

C.S. Lewis, with countless sages before him, pegged it as the essential vice, the utmost evil…Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.  I see it in me. It’s true.

Charles Spurgeon named the lesson:  No matter how dear you are to God, if pride is harbored in your spirit, He will whip it out of you. They that go up in their own estimation must come down again by His discipline. 

I confess again, and this time I know my conscience is cleansed. Now lead me, Lord, slowly, in the way everlasting.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before the fall. 

Proverbs 16:18