Earlier this year I landed in the emergency room due to severe abdominal pain. Everything turned out fine but while I was there the staff did a CAT scan. They informed me later they had taken 6,000 images of my insides. It seems like 3,000 images would have been enough but I’m not a medical professional. I offered to autograph a few pictures, in exchange for a discount on the hospital bill. They declined. Probably a smart move; my inside is even less photogenic than my outside. Maybe I can sell them on Ebay.
My friend, Neil The Walking Concordance, and I were talking about how God shines light into our hearts, exposing things we didn’t know about ourselves (or have chosen to ignore). I wrote about one such experience in “Not My Job”.
The conversation meandered around to how God creates opportunity for us to surrender the things He reveals to us. God is not a bully; He isn’t pointing out issues and shaming me about them. He is opening my eyes to thoughts, behaviors and mindsets that are not pleasing to Him. Things that have no place in the life of someone for whom so great a price was paid.
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:13-16 ESV
Example: when I was a child, if my earthly father saw a cut on my hand he would have taken care of it. Untended it could become infected, creating a bigger problem. If my earthly father took care of the cut but ignored the splinters next to it, we might think him negligent. Likewise, though my most critical heart wounds may be healed there are splinters in my heart that do not belong. I can’t tell you what all of them are. I possess an alarming lack of clarity when it comes to the state of my heart. God will tell me at the appointed time, when some action is necessary.
WASH YOUR HANDS
I heard a great analogy. Imagine washing your hands. Most of us use water and soap, right? Depending on how dirty our hands are, perhaps we spend a little extra time on the washing. Now imagine a surgeon washing his hands. Quite a contrast, isn’t it?
The Great Physician wants my heart to be clean. “Operating room” clean. The stuff that doesn’t belong in my heart is not good for me, my neighbor, or my relationship with God. If it’s envy or lust or greed or hate, it’s not going to get better until it’s addressed. My Father knows this, and He cares enough for me to remove the splinters.
A Jesus-follower is going to go through a spiritual uncovering process. God is going to expose things that need attention. The splinters gotta go.
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 ESV
I read this as a conditional promise: “we have fellowship with one another”. That’s been my experience. It was after I began walking in the light that I began to have true and meaningful friendships. I was able to be a friend worth having. I also see a promise in “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”. If I walk in the light, things are going to be exposed, and cleansed.
There are several people that know all my stuff. Many people do not want to know all but they know the general story. The rest get a highly sanitized version. Not everyone in the world wants or needs to know everything about me. I’m not that important. What is important is that my heart is exposed to God. There is a peace that comes from being wholly accepted “as-is” by my Creator.
This month I will tell my story to three different audiences. Some will hear the Sunday School version, some will hear the highlight/lowlight material, some will hear gritty details of past and present reality. In each case I hope to honor and respect the persons I am communicating to.
Humans often live with fear of rejection, so we do not share our entire story with others. But if we share all of ourselves with someone that is special to us, we have an opportunity for truth and love to bloom into a deep and beautiful relationship. And secret wounds will begin to heal.
Most of the time, being in the light is not scary. It is comforting. It is healing. It is the path of the spiritual sojourner.
(Some of Brennan Manning’s books talk about God’s acceptance. I recommend Ragamuffin Gospel or Abba’s Child if you want to get insight from an actual author and spiritual heavyweight.)