Do you suppose tortoises are good at math?

I remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. I think I remember my teachers (probably Mom) telling me that I didn’t need to rush through my math assignments, that I should take my time and do them correctly and stop trying to compete with my genius nerd-face little brother. And I genuinely tried to listen, but it was so hard not to rush when I wanted to beat him so badly. Big sister pride was at stake, after all. I was older than he was and should have been able to finish my math assignments more quickly and more accurately than him.

Right. Those of you who know my brother know he’s faster and more effecient than some calculators.

Eventually I gave up trying to beat him because I knew his talent with numbers was beyond me. I never stopped learning, but I stopped trying to beat him. There’s a big difference there.

I finally got to the point where I understood I wasn’t trying to beat him because I was better; I was trying to beat him becuase I thought I was better.

Similarly in the story of the tortoise and the hare, the hare didn’t rush through the whole race (only to lose in the end) becuase he was better at racing than the tortoise was; he did it because he simply thought he was better than the tortoise and could afford to take a few rest breaks. What happened? The hare lost; the tortoise won.

And what happened to me? I stopped trying to excel in an area where I had no gift and focused instead on the gift I had been given (writing) and now I’m actually using those gifts on a daily basis.

This random analogy is what came to me when I read the verse for today.

James 4:10

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

 James is one of those Books in the Bible that hits hard. James doesn’t pull his punches, and if you can really get the meat of what he’s talking about, most of the book will make you cringe. (It’s a short, easy read; I’d recommend it.) But this verse doesn’t really seem to make a whole lot of sense at first blush. It goes against everything we are taught.

Make progress in your life through being humble. What sense does that make?

When you’re at work you’re supposed to be cutthroat and savage, aren’t you? When you’re out in the world, you have to fight for every scrap you can get, every penny you can get, every inch you can get. You’re supposed to be merciless, and when you’re all done getting ahead of everyone else, you can pat yourself on the back because you’ve done right by yourself. Isn’t that what we’re taught? Isn’t that what’s expected of us? To look out for number one?

Well, that’s not what I get from this verse. This verse says to be humble. Be humble before God and understand that everything you have, He gave you — and He can just as easily take it away. Be humble. Live your life the way He commands. And He will see to it that you are taken care of because that’s what He does.

Stop trying to run your race better and faster than your brothers and sisters and instead stop to help the ones who fall down.

When you get a chance to do something nice for somebody, do it. It’s a good reminder that God loves them as much as He loves you.

Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

And above all else, don’t take credit for anything in your life. Maybe you can sit there and point out all the good things you have and explain how you worked to get them, but I can tell you right now that I don’t deserve any of the blessings I have. I’m not a good enough person to have earned my wonderful family or my awesome job or my great church (I’m running out of modifiers); God has given me everything I have and I give Him the credit for it.

Be humble. Realize that you aren’t better than everyone else. You’re different and God made you that way, so stop trying to compete against people you aren’t gifted to compete against. Why do you need to win anyway? To prove something?

If you’re trying to prove something, who are you trying to prove it to? The world? Your family? Your friends? Yourself?

What good will that do? Yes, maybe you’ll get some respect. And maybe you’ll gain some independence. But what good will it do you?

It’s worth thinking about.

And take your time. There are plenty of miles left in the race and there’s no need to rush.

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