A couple of my good friends enjoy exploring old abandoned mines. As I listen to them share their stories about their underground adventures, I usually find myself thinking two things: that sounds like a lot of fun, and that sounds like a really bad idea.
There’s a long list of things to be aware of when exploring abandoned mines. Such as the air quality. Poisonous gases sink and settle on the floor of abandoned mines and will get kicked up when disturbed by walking. But perhaps the most dangerous thing lurking in abandoned mines are the false floors.
Throughout these old mines are deep narrow vertical holes that the miners would dig for various reasons. When they no longer needed that hole, they would just cover it up with wood, dirt, and rock, creating a false floor. The miners would move across these false floors like a bridge. They even built railway tracks on top of these false floors that would carry heavy minecarts on a regular basis. At the time these false floors worked and were relatively safe. But today, those false floors can be fatal.
As a rule, when exploring abandoned mine, you don’t trust anything that is wood. Age and moisture compromise the integrity and strength of the wood. In one mine, my friends came across an iron track that was eerily suspended above the air because all the wood had rotted away and disappeared leaving the railway track precariously hanging over a deep dark hold.
One of the reasons that false floors are so dangerous is that they are hard to detect. The wooden planks that miners placed over the vertical shafts have been covered up with a thick layer of rock and dirt. Walking through a mine today it is nearly impossible to be able to determine if you are standing on a solid floor or old rotten boards suspended above a vertical shaft. False floors can be so deceptive that it is very likely you will walk across one without even realizing it.
The wooden boards, rock, and dirt that create false floors in abandoned mines give the appearance of a reliable, secure, and safe pathway. But appearing to be a solid floor and being a solid floor are two very different things.
Meek is an act of power and strength, but the tricky thing is that there are different versions of meek. Like identical twins, it can be challenging to distinguish the difference. False meekness, like the false floors of mines, impersonates true meekness like luring the traveler to trust it’s destructive path.
Some actions and behaviors can give the appearance of being meek without genuinely being meek. Kind, generous, thoughtful, and selfless acts and behaviors can have the appearance of meekness on the surface but below are hollow, empty and destructive. Being meek is different than resembling meek.
Furthermore, you may be able to walk along a false floor for a time without any noticeable problems, treacherously luring you to believe that everything is okay and that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing.
Walking on the false floor of meekness also creates a false sense of security as you grow to believe that your behaviors are meek, kind, selfless, and generous. And for a time it seems to work for you because there are no real negative consequences, so you continue participating in false meekness.
All false floors of meekness will have their moments and have the threatening potential of collapsing.
It takes times to unravel what true meekness is and what it is not. Christ described himself as being “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). But I don’t see Christ as someone who was pushed around or who was easily manipulated. He was not one who would give up or give in under pressure. He was not timid. He didn’t have low confidence or a lack of self-respect, yet those are the labels we use to describe meek.
So what is true meekness? To be honest, I’ve been thinking about and searching for answers to that very question for over a year now, and I still find it a challenging question to answer. But I have reached two conclusions about meek: First: being meek has nothing to do with being a doormat. And second: to truly be able to act with meekness, you need to first develop a strong, solid sense of self.