“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
Laodicea was prideful for a reason; it was beautiful, rich, and advanced. If Laodicea was a woman, she would be the one that looks like she has her life completely together, the one the rest of us hot messes stare at from afar and wonder how she does it. However, what we know now is that Laodicea was perfect above ground, but below she sat on a fault line that would someday ruin her. I relate so much to Laodicea. There was a point in my life where I too had everything perfect and tidy on the outside, but inwardly there was a crack that would eventually lead to my undoing. For Laodicea it came through an earthquake, for me it was anxiety.
My first major battle with anxiety started just a few years into my marriage. Before the anxiety hit, I looked like I had it all together; married to a pastor, two beautiful children, a nice home, all the ingredients for what I wanted people to see as a “perfect life.” One night, however, everything changed. The tectonics plate below my faulty foundation shifted and I experienced my first panic attack. It was followed by another attack, and another, and another. My life became panic. I want to say that I turned to God and overcame but I, like Laodicea, decided instead of starting completely over, I would fix the pieces that were broken myself. I got on medication, I went to therapy, I prayed, I read my bible, I did everything “Right” and it helped. I began to rebuild the parts of me that were destroyed, I smoothed out all the rough edges, glued and taped the crack. What I didn’t do was fix the foundation. Sure, I prayed and read my bible, I raised my hands in worship and let God in a little but ,If I’m being honest, I used God. Instead of allowing him to be the air I breathed I used him like a cigarette, got my fix and then tossed him aside.
Fast forward three years. Life was, again, good. I rebuilt myself even better than before. I was proud of my life, after overcoming such a desolate time I felt untouchable. Until, I wasn’t. Once again God shifted the world beneath my feet and once again, I fell. Only this time, it was my whole city, not just pieces of it. I looked at the destruction and immediately went to work; I got back on my medication, went back to therapy, cracked my bible open a little, and prayed my selfish prayers, and nothing. I did not have the power to save myself.
The truth is, we can go pretty far on our own power. We do it all the time. If you were told to run for twelve hours straight you could run really far, probably even be proud of the work you put in to travel that far. If I ran for twelve hours, I would definitely brag about it (I would brag if I ran five minutes). What if, however, you were to drive for twelve hours. You would make it a lot further, that is for sure. There is no glory or pride, however, in driving for twelve hours, people do it all the time. My first bout with anxiety, I ran. I ran and ran and ran and it was exhausting, it was hard, but I finished and when I was done, I said “look what I did,” “look what I overcame in my life.” And people clapped and were impressed. I was so impressive. The second round, on the other hand, I ran until I collapsed. I couldn’t do it. My own power was not enough. After hitting it with all I had and failing, I finally did the only thing that made sense. I fell at the Lord’s feet, gave myself completely over to him and let him be the vehicle that drove me to the finish line. And when people ask “how did you do it?” I say, “I didn’t, God did.”
It is so easy to feel the pressure of the world and start running to the finish line. To rebuild with tape and glue when foundations are faulty. God made us in his image and we often think that makes us gods and so we run our lives like the world revolves around us and we accomplish much. We put trophies out for the world to see how great we are, but we are sitting on fault lines with foundations we made with wood, hay, and stubble. We forget that there is a prize and the further we travel, the more we will be rewarded, someday. So, we run enough to get our rewards here, but never get in the vehicle that will take us beyond what we could ever imagine.
I don’t want to be Laodicea. They had everything, but it wasn’t enough to save them. They filled the pews in their Sunday best, stood during worship, and closed their eyes during prayer, but never gave themselves over to the King because like the rich young ruler it was too much to sacrifice.
God gave Laodicea a chance, and he’s giving us one too. Through his discipline he shows his love and he says this:
- Repent and be zealous.
- Acknowledge your sin and ask for forgiveness. It’s that simple.
- Open the Door
- Admit that you can’t do this without him and then turn to him, every second of every day.
There is a reward at the end of this. “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I have conquered and sat down with my Father on His throne.” I understand the appeal of living for today and reaping its rewards. However, faulty foundations will fall and trust me it hurts. When you build your foundation on Christ, however, not only will you not fall, but there will be a reward in eternity for you and that, I promise, is so much better.