Living Low

I have been ruminating on the following phrase from the book of James the past several weeks: “Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position (James 1:9b NIV).”

The phrase, in context, is speaking about Christians who were financially poor with very little material means. The author, James, calls this humble place a “high position,” or actually a place of blessing. In God’s economy, somehow being low meant that you were high—that possessing less was actually a place where a person possessed more—much more.

This elevation is not often how I think about humility.IMG_5087
Though the context of this passage points to financial means, Bible scholars also apply the same principles to people in other types of “humble circumstances.”

When I think about a low position, I think about my life being out of control and scary. Humility seems to be the place where order breaks down into chaos and we have to admit that we are not in control and that there are many unknowns in our life—that there re bigger things at play then just our desires.

Walking this cancer journey has been very much a humble path. It’s not that I feel I have unlocked some secret to this virtue, but rather this disease has literally put me in an inescapable position, hoping the Lord intervenes. There are a lot of things in my life that are now uncertain—namely my future. Within this broad category lie important subcategories like my physical health, career, relationships with family, my service to God—all of these have been affected and could be altered even more.

Take for example my physical health. Several months ago, I was in peak physical condition, including competing in several triathlons. I placed in the top three of my age group in each race, which friends said would be very difficult to do in Boulder County, considering the influx of fit people and pro athletes. At 36 years old, I seemed to be getting fitter instead of declining.

Then came cancer. This low position brought me into a complete reversal of my health. It has kept me from exercising regularly—something I enjoy that helps clear my mind as well as keep me healthy. Paradoxically, I have exercised the least amount of my life the past 6 months.

In addition, the disease has caused back pain, miserable muscle spasms, fatigue and many other symptoms. There have been several times where I’ve needed to ride in a wheelchair. But even worse for me was having to rely on my wife to carry things like our suitcases, infant car seat, etc. I have loved serving my wife tirelessly by carrying the bulk of heavy things and doing physical house chores. But not so much these days.

These setbacks have been somewhat minor individually, but when you add them up they are incredibly painful for me.


No triathlons, but plenty of good views. We’ve enjoyed visiting the Sioux Falls this spring, when the river flow is highest. I still think it is a shame to have so much whitewater and nothing fun to do with it. Build a kayak park anyone??

Yet, somehow James calls me blessed in this state. For one thing, health is nice, financial security is nice, but they aren’t always there when I want them. In fact, the more I ponder life, the more I know that my relationship with God is the greatest thing I have going for me.  This is greatly illustrated in the story of Abraham. Rather than riches or fighting men being his greatest good, God himself was his reward (Genesis 15:1 NIV).

Uncertainty and poverty help remind me that I am not in control. And while this might feel like the most terrifying place imaginable, to be held up by the “Everlasting Arms” should give me far more comfort and joy then I give it credit for. I soon find in God an ever present help, a fortress, a deliverer. I may not feel in control of my life, but I gain a closeness with God that is so much more than I ever lost.

I pray that I can remember these truths. They are often difficult to see from the misty barrenness of the low position I find myself in.

Lord, give me strength to remember that you are my “shield, (my) very great reward (Genesis 15:1b).” In this new life of living low, help me to find the greatest gain in you. I pray you wouldn’t just be a consolation prize in my life, but that you would be the prize. I pray for this in Jesus name, Amen. 



4 thoughts on “Living Low

  1. Wow, thanks for the great comment and feedback on this post, Segs! I’m glad to hear that I can still cast a spell (somewhat) with what I write. I look forward to writing more; thanks for the motivation, my friend. I do look forward to seeing how God will take care of you in your current circumstances. My prayer for you is that it will include another role with editing and ministry. Keep in touch Erik.

  2. You compel me to reply, though I hesitate to dirty your well-sculpted and hard-earned thoughts with unnecessary words. Funny, I was just telling my kids (two of them are teenagers now–when did THAT happen???!!) that I had to create an editing diagnostic sheet all because of you. Do you remember? Regularly, I would fall under your spell after you would hand in an article to be edited. Even if you had a cruddy or non-existent focus, even if you left off the ever important ‘changed life,’ you usually wowed me with your word choice, keen observations and interpretation of a scene. You sir, are one hell of a journalist. (I can say words like that now…I’m not on staff anymore). Thank you for applying those skills to your current experiences, despite the incredible sacrifice it must be for someone as private as you.
    I have to admit, I don’t ever recall seeing that phrase you highlighted in James before. Tonight, I’m working late on a presentation which I will give in the morning, a request to work fulltime with (another) homeless ministry. Your thoughts and your carefully worded prayer ring true and necessary, not only for this potential career marked by serving those in America’s lowest of positions (the homeless), but more immediately, during my own dry season of searching for work, of being under-employed and working many hours as a host and bus boy at a local Italian restaurant. Thank you, Mr. Lawrence. I’m pleased to be under your spell again, but this time, it is a spell cast by a master communicator with a vital message, not merely a gifted writer.

  3. Beautiful. Never doubt your usefullness. You are impacting more people than you will ever know this side of heaven. Count me the first.

    Praying for you, Chris.

  4. Chris & Elizabeth,
    Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts with us. While I have always included you in my prayers on a regular basis, the prayers are more focused now. My heart aches for the two of you as you face this challenge, yet I know that God will use it to reveal Himself to you and to others along the way.
    Ephes 3:16- 19 is my prayer for you both today: I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through HIs Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
    Kathie & Rick Sorenson

    Will you get mail sent to your CO address?

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