You know those times when a person is faced with a realization they aren’t prepared for? Maybe a medical diagnosis, announcement of divorce, a death in the family? The emotional response is honest and raw. It might not be attractive but it is real. In a desert of wannabe-celebrities, a constant media stream, and ridiculous movie remakes… it’s a challenge to find what is true and alive. The noise of our society dulls our senses, our hearts, our humanity. I’m tempted to tune out.
I used to say “Give it to me raw, God! I don’t want a sugar-coated life.” The truth is I may have wanted it but I didn’t know how to handle raw life. I did my best to avoid reality for many years. It didn’t go well. Perhaps we choose to substitute real life with illusion because real life is hard and tedious. And scary.
God has always seen past my false bravado to the scared little boy inside, shaking a fist at a world he doesn’t trust or understand. God has shown great compassion for him. The little boy yelled in fear and anger. God opened His arms to hold him close. But he turned and ran instead. That boy is a good runner.
I once said “there is no God”. I didn’t think He wasn’t there, I just didn’t believe He cared. I was probably drunk at the time. Or hungover. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
There is a God and He does care. Intensely. I have since experienced the redemption, healing, and freedom of God’s power and goodness. It still feels a little strange that God cares about all the details of my life. Not because I don’t want Him to, but because I am me and He’s… well, God. Surely there are a few billion people more important, more deserving, more “holy”. But God is particularly fond of ragamuffins. A favored song says
“I hear You have a soft spot for fools and little children, and I’m glad ‘cause I’ve been both of those.” – Russ Taft, ‘A Father’s Eye’
Jesus even said it point-blank in Mark 2:17
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
We have a lot of one-liners in recovery. Probably because we have short attention spans. One of the sayings is, “you are only as sick as your secrets”. Unrecovered alcoholics/addicts are good at keeping secrets. The first time I met with the pastor of my church, I gave him the Readers Digest version of my life story. You know, the highlight reel. I finished by saying, “Christianity is the only religion that would accept me. If not for Jesus, I’m doomed”. Friends and neighbors, just be sure you are ready to be rid of your secrets; I ended up telling my story to a couple hundred people one Sunday morning. It was terrifying, but oh so liberating.
“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8
It is utterly impossible to present myself to God as worthy of His love and acceptance. After all, He knows all my secrets. Sometimes I’d rather point at reality TV or world events, and say “Isn’t that terrible?” instead of taking a walk with God through my heart, examining my own spiritual poverty.
There are times God pokes me in the heart and smiles; like He’s got something to share with me and wants to play Twenty Questions. When I engage with Him that way He heals things I didn’t know were broken, or reveals some truth about Himself or my heart. I wonder if we would do this if I was still keeping secrets.
My Father hand-crafted me to want life real and raw. I still can’t do the sugar-coated thing. You could call me a low-carb Christian. I’d rather be called a friend of God.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~ Maria Robinson