Sunday, February 26, 2017

Praying Hands

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy.

Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No"

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands.

"The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one - no one - - ever makes it alone!

Author Unknown

I look at my own scarred hands from a life of work and worry. Do I really thinks that those scars came from the ability of my own hands? I would only be fooling myself to think such a thing. The One who's hands are more broken and scarred than mine gently puts my hands in His. He tries to take my hands and fold them together into praying hands, if I would just let Him.


Lance Gargus

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Pride vs. Humility

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

A man's pride shall bring him low
Proverbs 23:11

"If pride turned some of the angels into demons, then humility can doubtless make angels out of demons."
John Climacus

The definition of Pride is a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

Pride is always considered the most serious of all sins, in any list. It is the original sin that caused Lucifer to fall from heaven and to become Satan.

It plagues us carnal creatures just as bad.

My thoughts drift to two people I know. One, gave up going to church and fully embraced his work. Determined to climb the corporate ladder. Seeking to achieve a certain level and position. His wife continued to support him in his endeavours. Maybe even driving him towards it. I don't know. The stress had already caused him one heart attack. His nerves strained causing him to chain smoke. Still he continues the pursuit, no matter the cost.

The other, gave up his career and good money to pursue the Lord's work. Though he makes barely nothing on his preaching job and has a family to support, he walked out on faith. Because the company would not allow him to be off on Sundays and Wednesday nights to worship His Lord, he left. Not knowing what was around the corner. A small congregation, with few people, he stepped out to attend to their needs.

Both men, chose a path. Both men worked for the same company and had the exact same start. Two different directions was chosen. Two different ends. One sure of where he was going, and one unsure of where the Lord would lead him. One stressed and one with inner peace. One chose pride, the other chose God.

When we become too full of ourselves, God humbles us. Sometimes we draw closer to Him, sometimes we just blame Him. I am guilty of more of the latter, than the former. With all the troubles I have faced down and all the fires I have walked through, only One has walked the path before me. He blazed the trail. I want so much to blame God, instead of blaming myself. When things are going good, I think it's all my doing. When things go bad, I think it's all God's doing. What a foolish child I have been. A spoiled child would be more like it. God gave up everything and humbled Himself for me. He came as the servant. I want to be the master. I am no more the master of my fate than my car is. If my car could think, it might think I want to drive myself. Refusing to believe he needs a driver, only to coming crashing into something without him. If God leaves my driver seat, I'll come crashing into my own tangled mess I made.

The longer I live, the more I've come to that realization. Unlike the angels, we can be humbled in these temporal bodies. These bodies have limits built in. And thank God they do. We're arrogant enough, me especially. Sometimes you have to lose nearly everything to see what's important in life.

He holds life and death in His hands. He extends His hands out before us and bids for us to choose. We all choose each day with the choices we make. How many times when I started to choose death, did he jerk His hand back from me. Saving me once again from myself.

The truth is I am not a god. All the pride makes one think you are and have control of your life. Don't believe the lie of pride from the dark one.

In my soul searching, Lord, may I seek not my will but Your will be done.


Lance Gargus

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.James 4:6

The tranquility and overwhelming presence of the spirit of God humbles even the greatest of men.
"The most important of life's battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul."