I am giggling with Kara this week through Bill Peet’s book Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure. It is a lengthy picture book that tells the story of a proud lion who had an unfortunate incident involving a spark of flame contacting his beautiful mane. Hubert the lion, embarrassed by the loss of his hair goes into hiding into a hole in a hollow tree. Many animal friends attempt to rescue him, but only one brave elephant gets the job done by capturing the tear of a crocodile, which will help regrow Hubert’s mane. And GROW it did. Hubert’s hair went wild tangling through and around all of his animal friends. Thankfully, a baboon with shears trimmed Hubert’s hair back into form….although, unlike the form he was formerly used to. Hubert’s mane was now shaped into a square. He didn’t mind though, and this is how the story ends:
And besides,” he went on with a very smug smile,
“I always have wanted my own special style.
I’m prouder than ever and think you’ll agree
That there’s no other lion exactly like me.
You can search every jungle, each circus and zoo,
From San Francisco to Timbuctoo
But I doubt that you’ll find though you look everywhere
A lion whose mane is so perfectly square.
Oh, Hubert. I totally get the whole hair thing. My hair can get out of control too. If it were not for my trusty flat iron, my hair would be mistaken for a lion’s mane!
The thing with Hubert is that his mane was never the same (like my rhyming skills?), but he accepted the change and embraced his uniqueness. He lost it all (the hair), but when he got it back he was thankful to have gained it because he knew what it meant to be without it.
Some of us have never lost anything, and some of us have “lost it all.” Some of us know what it means to fall hard, and some of us only know the view from up top. Some of us know pride really well, while others of us embrace shame like a comfortable friend.
Pride is when we are on top and think we will never fall, and shame is when we fall and think we are too far gone to get back up.
Both of them are terrible identifiers. We all want to be our true, unique selves loved simply for who we are, square manes and all. Both pride and shame get in the way of this. Pride says, “I don’t need love.” Shame says, “I cannot be loved.” Neither offer hope for broken people, because hope is always met in love.
The humility that Christ displayed on the cross tears down our preconceived notions of power. “He emptied Himself” (Phil. 2). When “God made Him who who knew no sin to be sin for us” our shame was placed on Christ, the Righteous One (2 Cor. 5:21).
We need to lose something in order to find what we really need.
We need to lose our lives. Jesus preached this and pointed us to this, to His LIFE. He is the power, so we can now cease striving for it. He bore our sins and shame, so we no longer hang our heads low, but look up to Him, our LIFE.
Wherever you find yourself in this moment, at this very hour, make sure to find yourself IN HIM. First, know Jesus as your Savior. Look to Him as Lord. Confess and Repent of your sins. Believe in His power over sin at the cross and the empty tomb, and receive Him as your Savior. Second, if you do know Him as your Savior then believe His promises. Trust His character, His plan, and His purpose. Don’t settle for cheap substitutes when you can hold the treasure.
Unlike Hubert the Lion, our identity is not in self, but in Christ. We hold our heads up high looking up not in. In order for us to find Jesus, we must first know our need for Jesus. We need Him. We take our broken lives, our shame, our empty pursuits for power and lay ourselves down at His feet. And we do this without comparing our lives to anyone else’s. We do this not looking back with regret or looking ahead with worry. We do this because this is what we were made for- our true calling- to receive Jesus and to share Jesus. To walk in love in the life-giving Spirit of God.
Sometimes we need an identity check, look to Jesus, and be reminded of where our true life lies. Moms, students, retirees, teens, preachers, and seekers- all of us- all who are thirsty- all who long to be filled with His living water in the every day, mundane, abundant life that we live.