Swallowing My Pride

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Christian sword swallower Dan Meyer sharpens his talents at the 2007 Tennessee Renaissance Festival
“Pride comes before a fall.” –Proverbs 16:18
The sword swallower stepped onto the stage and into the spotlight. He slid a slightly curved saber out of its scabbard, leaned back his head, and slowly began to slide the cold steel blade down his throat. The physical feat of using mind over matter had taken him years to learn. Little did the audience realize the internal spiritual process the man was struggling with that was taking even longer to master – swallowing his pride.
The ancient art of sword swallowing is over 4000 years old, and can take from 3 to 7 years to learn. As Director of the Sword Swallowers Association International, I know only too well the difficulties and dangers of the art first-hand.
Most audiences don’t realize the physical and mental difficulties of sword swallowing, much less the internal spiritual struggle I go through whenever I perform. As a Christian sword swallower, I struggle daily with maintaining the balance between performing as a professional entertainer demonstrating a death-defying feat that only a few dozen people in the world can perform, with being a Christian demonstrating humility while trying to live a Christ-centered life.
During the three years it took to learn the physical act of sword swallowing, I also struggled with humbling myself spiritually and learning to swallow my pride. In 2001, after three years of daily practice 10-12 times a day, I managed to successfully swallow my first sword, a slightly curved saber that became my pride and joy, a sword I call “My Pride”.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride comes before a fall.” Well, sword swallowing is already dangerous enough as it is, and I certainly don’t want to fall flat on my face while I’m swallowing a sword. So I make it a point to get down on my knees to humble myself and swallow my pride before every performance.
As Christians, our desire is to imitate Jesus, to humble ourselves and crucify our pride. As imperfect humans, we often fail miserably and let our pride get in the way.
Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” I’ve come to learn that when I get down on my knees to humble myself, when I give up my pride, and offer myself and the glory to God, He can then use my talents in ways I could never imagine. On the occasions that I don’t humble myself and instead try to do my own thing and take the glory myself, those are the times I fall flat on my face, sometimes with disastrous results.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing as deep as the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Jesus said, “What goes into the mouth, goes into the stomach, but what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart.” (Matthew 15:17-18).
I’ve found that swallowing the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God deep inside me every day helps keep my focus upward, my alignment straight, and makes it easier to swallow my pride, with the result being that what comes out of my mouth comes from the heart.
During the three year process of learning to swallow my sword and my pride, I decided to share the internal struggle of what was going through my mind while two feet of steel was going through my body. The result was the poem “Swallowing My Pride.” Even though it’s still a daily struggle, I now make it a point to get down on my knees before every performance and use the poem as a constant reminder to swallow my pride.
Swallowing My Pride
My saber is my joy and pride
I wear it proudly by my side
Shined and polished, it marks my stride
The sword I call my Pride
I wipe the blade with one smooth glide,
Lean back my head and open wide
Slide it in, down deep inside
The sword I call my Pride
Their mouths aghast, eyes open wide,
The crowd stands gasping mesmerized
No grasp of hazards deep inside
As I release my Pride
Standing there arms open wide
My Pride exposed, it’s hard to hide
Discomfort I feel deep inside
While swallowing my Pride
My saber’s hard, just like my Pride
The danger cannot be denied
One slight move cuts deep inside
The wounding of my Pride
Which hurts worse, I can’t decide
Cold hard steel or burning pride
What’s plain to see or hard to hide
While swallowing my Pride
The hardest part, I must confide
Is not hard steel or sharp carbide
The sharpest pain stabs deep inside
As I adjust my Pride
Standing there arms open wide
My tarnished pride gets crucified
As something pierces deep inside
While swallowing my Pride
Their mouths aghast, eyes open wide,
The crowd at last lets out a sigh
As I remove with one smooth glide
The sword I call my Pride
I stoop to put away my Pride,
Wipe it clean, make sure it’s dried
Pack up, lay down, and set aside
The sword I call my Pride
Related Articles & Links:
Dan Meyer – Hard Act to Swallow
Nashville News: Dan Meyer
22nd Tennessee Renaissance Festival Family Weekend
Impact show at David Lipscomb University
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