Early in the mornings, I journey to the gym and step onto the treadmill. I enter the time I’d like to walk (30 minutes) followed by the program and the incline level. I put my headphones on and begin the long walk to nowhere. After 30 minutes, the treadmill begins a two minute “cool down” period. The first minute, it slows to a speed relative to how fast you’d been walking, and in the second minute it just slows down to 2 miles per hour before shutting down.
This morning, a woman stepped onto the treadmill next to mine about the same time I did. She was probably in her mid 20’s, peppy, athletic and had her hair pulled back into a large pony-tail.
I had set my treadmill to a brisk walk. In the last couple of minutes of the walk, before the cool-down period, I increase the speed until it’s just into the run (ok, to be honest, it’s really just jogging) speed.
This woman just took off…a dead run. And for 30 minutes her giant ponytail quickly bounced at the pace of her steps.
Our treadmill sessions were ending at about the same time. The cool down speed her treadmill went to in that first minute? It was faster than my high speed when I ran.
I was humbled.
Yes, I’m probably twice her age. No, I’m not an athlete (I only run when I’m chased). Yes, there are all sorts of excuses I could make. But here is the reality:
I was humbled.
There are times like this when we have our humility handed to us. When the Twins lost to the Red Sox a couple of weeks ago 19-0 in spring training, they didn’t choose to be humbled. But that’s what happened.
But there are other times that we get to choose humility.
“Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.”
– Philippians 2:6-8
During this season of Lent, we remember Jesus’ journey to the cross. It was a terrible, humiliating death, and it was Jesus’ choice. Obedient to the will of God, even to the point of death on a cross, Jesus willingly gave himself up on our behalf. He emptied himself on behalf of all of us. Jesus chose humility for our sake.
We too have choices to make. Too often, we choose not humility but glory. We choose not the good of the other, but of ourselves. We choose not to pour ourselves out on behalf of those in need, but rather to keep what we have, forgetting to trust that God will provide.
This morning, I was reminded that while there are some things I can’t choose to change (I will never run faster than that woman on the treadmill…instead I’ll just keep plugging away at my own pace) there are areas of my life where I can make a choice. I can receive Christ’s gift of humility, freely given, and can work to imitate his example.
We all can.
During this Lenten season, let’s remember to follow Jesus’ example:
- Emptying ourselves to those in need
- Being obedient to God
- Becoming humble as a servant