First, there was the embarrassment of Enron. Secondly, there was the disgrace of Worldcom. Now, it appears even Martha Stewart, (no relation), is struggling to maintain her dignity. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just what has gone wrong? Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, once said, “winning is not everything; it’s the only thing.” That thought seems to be the American way. Our society will cast men into one of two categories: winners or losers. No longer do participants seek just to have fun and enjoy the game; it is all about winning. However, has reaching the top at any cost become our reason for living and the source of our joy?
There are two men in scripture who climbed to lofty heights, but experienced devastating falls. God recorded for us an explanation for their fall, and they sound eerily similar. Of Saul it was written, “…when thou wast little in thine own sight…”, and of Uzziah it was written, “…he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.” Simply put, they forgot what got them there. In the ascent up the mountain, the law of spiritual gravity demands that we shed items that weigh us down. However, we are watching a generation, like Hansel and Gretel, that are carelessly throwing away the very things that are meant to sustain them. Falls from grace leave a distinct imprint on society, and the discarded “bread” is never found again in the descent. As the Lord continues to bless us, what are the arrows our quiver must never be absent of?
The arrow of a humble mind. We hear much talk of how our lives should “soar with eagles.” Is everyone truly capable of such a feat? That promise comes with the condition, “they that wait upon the Lord…” Have you noticed how success has an unusual way of changing men? Or does it? Success does not make the man, but success reveals the man we really are. To soar with eagles, one must learn to breath differently. The higher the elevation, the less oxygen there is to intake, and the ability to think clearly is distorted. Is God talking more about you and me flying solo, or simply being helpless and dependent while riding on His wings?
The arrow of honest motives. Saul and David both sin, yet one is restored and the other never knows the anointing of God again. Why is that so? David cared about hurting the Lord, but Saul only thought about hurting his reputation. You might wonder how great men of our era such as Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers, Jimmy Draper, Junior Hill, and Ron Dunn have survived becoming the victim of scandals and temptations that have befallen others. Vessels of honor do not become such because of their outward appearances, but rather because of an inward possession. Everyone wants to know how to get to the top, but few are asking how do you stay?
The arrow of honored maturity. God said to Abimelech, “..I also withheld thee from sinning against me..” Without such help, a fall of disgrace is inevitable. If you are not being called to step higher up today, you better stay where you are until He does. To ascend without the Father is to jump without a parachute. The view may be spectacular, but so will be the pain. Just what is “the top?” Is it fame and fortune? Is it being in the limelight with popularity? From such magnificent heights, you and I have observed mighty kings, skilled leaders, and gifted orators come tumbling to the ground. At “the top,” you find chilling winds, dangerous cliffs, and rare scavengers. Only those who remain God-conscious, obedient, and faithful can survive.
So, is life just about winning or losing? No, my friend, life is all about heart. Life has a unique way of leading you and me into places that only heart can sustain us. As the howling winds descend and the oxygen lightens, trust what you have been taught in the climb and gather up the good things others have discarded on the way. It may just be the things that keep you from making headline news.
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.