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Coming clean

juiceCreate in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

At the heart of the gospel there is a rare brand of honesty.

It is the courage, the audacity, to see yourself as you really are.

You will never experience true grace until you believe you really are more deeply flawed than you have ever dared to admit to anyone….even yourself.

It is only then you can begin to understand that if God really loves you still, then you are more deeply loved than you have ever dared to imagine.
~ Joe Coffey, Bob Bevington, Red Like Blood

Can we talk?

I’m seeing ugly things lately.
Reactions from fear. From pride. From frustration.

And I’m seeing them close-up. They’re coming from me.

Granted, I could spin a tale that might convince you I have due cause. That because of others, my reactions are justified. I might could lead you to even feel sorry for me. Poor me.

But it would just make things uglier.

Instead, I’d rather come clean.

Here’s the deal: my church—although rather conservative in other ways (I don’t like the label, but it communicates)—has always been a place of prayer for the 18 years I’ve been there. And in small group settings, it’s been a place of vocalized prayer between men and women. Just as we talk to each other about God, we take turns talking to God with each other.

But until additional study is completed by our leaders, we’re being asked to alter a few things. (That’s the short version.)

I could tell you why I disagree. But this is not the time. Nor the place. Nor what I need to say right now. 

What I need to say is that, when others alter the circumstances of our lives—whether rightly or wrongly—our fingers of blame need not point outward, but inward.

Not as a cause of the change (perhaps we played a role; perhaps not at all), but our inward look is to examine how we are reacting to the change.

Am I misjudging the leaders who made the decision? Am I allowing bitterness to grow toward those who did prompt the change? Am I more concerned with what I think is “right” than about loving others despite their “wrongness” (in my opinion)?

I need to stay alert to the set of temptations I now face:
to be close-minded; to stew in anger; to gossip; to fear the future; to lose hope; to worry; to see only the sin and not the Son; to do the easy thing instead of the right thing. To go when he wants me to stay. Or to stay when he wants me to go.

Or perhaps the deadliest temptation:
to lose trust that God will handle this,
and take care of me and my family in it.

Is he aware of this situation? Of course.
Can he turn it around to his own honor in the end? Of course.
Do I really believe that? My head boldly affirms: Of course!

But my whispers a quieter yes.
I believe, Lord; help my unbelief.

I’ve already seen good things the Lord is doing through this. I needn’t doubt he’ll do more. Through our innocence and despite our sinfulness. He is still God, after all.

In the meantime, I need to keep stepping into the Fountain to let him wash me clean. To keep burning with desire that his Name be honored above all else.  At whatever the personal cost to me.

What’s been bugging you lately?
Will you come clean with God, too?

It’s not pleasant, but it’s good.

Because when we refuse to strip bare before him, exposing who we really are on the inside (as if he doesn’t already know! but do we?), we hurt ourselves, we hurt others, and we hurt the Kingdom.

The rewards we get from repentance are a clean heart and a renewed spirit.

Maybe the outward mess will hang around awhile longer, but the inward mess doesn’t have to.

Look inward, look upward, then look outward.
The view is much better.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Psalm 51:7-8

* * *

Where do you feel vulnerable right now?


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