“Nice night for a walk.”
I thought to myself as I was finishing up some work after dinner.
But it really wasn’t.
It had been raining for days and was very cold for this time of year.
Quito is like that sometimes. Lots of rain. The city covered in thick clouds for days. But after the rain always follows sunshine. The climate here is perfect for my taste. Not too cold, never too hot, lots of sunshine.
Pretty much spring weather all year round.
I put on a beanie and a thick hoodie, popped in my earbuds and went my way.
Walking through the city is one of my favorite pastimes. Especially in the evening.
It’s the city of a million lights. And at night, you don’t see all the filth that is all too apparent during the daylight hours (especially for someone who grew up in Europe).
I have some of my brightest moments during these walks, coming up with new ideas, and better ways of doing things, seeing the big picture versus getting lost in the details. It also breaks the monotony of looking at screens for hours every day.
Now, Quito at night is certainly not for the faint of heart. You’ll see some stuff on these streets that is better left unseen.
People getting mugged, drug-fueled knife fights, drunks walking around with their pants off.. Nothing really shocks or surprises me anymore. It might even be adding to the fun if I’m honest.
About half an hour into my walk, I contemplated where to go. I felt fresh so I decided we’ll keep going north to one of the notorious parks in the city, turn around there and head back home.
“Notorious” because I had heard a few horror stories of people getting mugged and even kidnapped there.
But that didn’t faze me. If anything, it made the detour more enticing.
So when I reached the park (Parque ‘El Ejido’, if you’re ever visiting), I decided to turn back home, but through the heart of the park.. in pitch black darkness.
As I was walking into the dark, away from the city lights, I started circling my arms and lightly jumping on the balls of my feet.
I knew what I was getting myself into so I wanted to be prepared and ready to go..
Just in case.
As I made my way through the park I notice 2 guys walking toward me. I also noticed how slippery the concrete path was that I was on.
I kept my eyes on the 2 guys as they were closing in and noticed two more on a different path a little further off to my right.
I felt something was off.
As I was passing the men, one of them tried blocking my way as the other one stepped to my left side.
The guy I was facing started talking to me as he was reaching under his jacket for something.
But I didn’t listen to a word. I knew exactly what was up.
BOOM – I kicked his legs out from underneath him.
I turned to my left to go after the second guy but notice as I’m getting ready to engage, that I’m already surrounded by the other 2 guys I had seen just a couple seconds prior.
In my mind, I was just thinking, “Let’s go, baby, I’ll take you all out”.
I was surprised that this happened to me, but I wasn’t really surprised. I had it coming.
As I’m realizing I’m encircled, one of them pulls out a knife.
Keep in mind, it was dark, so I couldn’t see much, but I saw enough. As the guy with the knife approached me I turned to escape the other way but slipped on the wet concrete and fell to the ground.
I knew right then and there that I screwed up. Big time.
The last thing you want when some knife-wielding thugs are coming at you is to take a dive at their feet.
They jumped me as I was trying to get back up.
I gotta be honest, I don’t mind a good ‘ol street brawl. But when I saw the knives.. I caved.
You know how they say your entire life passes you by in a near-death situation? Yeah, that’s not what happened.
But I thought this might be it. It became clear to me that I couldn’t defend myself anymore.
I was at their mercy.
So I gave ’em what they wanted (my phone) and they ran off.
They could’ve stabbed me. They could’ve killed me if they felt like it.
But God had other plans.
And all I could think to myself on my way back home was,
“Thank you, God.”
“Thank you for your mercy. Thank you that I made it out of this in one piece.”
I didn’t waste a second thinking about the brand new phone I had just lost.
A New Beginning
Right before the pandemic hit, I started voraciously reading the Bible every day. I can’t tell you why, I just felt a deep urge to do so.
It also wasn’t my first time trying to read through this book.
But this time was different.
And one lovely morning, as I was reading the New Testament (1 Corinthians, to be precise), I simply couldn’t deny it anymore..
“This is not just another book.. this is the Truth.. this is the Word of God.”
And just like that, my life completely changed.
You know, in that park, when I saw I was being approached by four guys in the dark of night, I could’ve just run away. I could’ve completely avoided the situation.
But my pride didn’t let me.
You see, I would’ve lost face running away from danger. Lost face to whom?
Myself. You. The people in my life. The people who look up to me.
I was too stubborn, too proud to avoid this confrontation. And it almost got me killed.
In the Garden of Eden, when Eve was deceived by the serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit, it completely changed the course of mankind.
Eve’s breaking of God’s Commandment is considered by many to be the first, the “Original Sin”.
But in fact, it was Lucifer himself who brought sin into the world. Lucifer was the most beautiful and crafty of all angels. So much so that he believed he could become God himself.
His pride led the entirety of creation into chaos.
The Greatest in the Kingdom
After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said,
“Whoever wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” -Mark 9:33-35
Christ set the example.
The Son of God came to this world not to be served, but to serve. Not to be praised and worshipped, but to glorify the Father.
He had no pride in Him.
Pride is an insidious disease destroying us from the inside out. It separates us from our Creator. We cannot be proud and walk with God.
I’ve always been a proud individual and I made no apologies for it. A terrible way of existing, I now understand.
On the other hand, giving one’s life to Christ and following His example is the most rewarding journey I have ever taken.
It has made every aspect of my life better.
Not easier. In many ways harder. But in every way better.
Lofty statement, sure. But those on that same path know exactly what I’m talking about. And I truly hope one day, you will too.
Don’t be a stubborn and proud fool. Nothing good ever comes from it.
God was gracious enough to show me that.
To be the greatest in His Kingdom is to make yourself smaller, not bigger, is to put others before you, is to serve them with humility and expect nothing in return.
I know this is a tough pill to swallow for a lot of you (was for me). But the Word of God is infallible. It cannot lie, nor deceive. Its power is supernatural, far beyond our comprehension.
And I can testify to this power as I’ve seen it radically and completely transform my life. And if God, in His mercy, can change a stubborn, proud and rebellious fool like myself..
He can change anyone.
Don’t get me wrong.. I still have a long way to go. I am anything but perfect. But I know where I am headed. I know what I must do. Can you say the same about your life?
I started writing this article immediately when I got home from my walk. Sure, the adrenaline shooting through my veins meant I wasn’t gonna fall asleep anytime soon. But that wasn’t it.
I needed to write this for myself, so I would be held accountable and not revert back to my old ways.
I needed it as a reminder since I was already planning in my head how to get back to the thugs who ambushed me (as I said.. I still have a long way to go).
I needed it so I would not let my pride lead me back to the same old mistakes. Mistakes that could’ve cost me much more than a measly phone.