Every year, our pastor gives us a theme for the new year that always rhymes with the number of the year.
It makes it easier to remember and by the time January is over, we are filled with fresh resolve to follow hard after Jesus.
This year’s theme is: Coming Clean in 2014.
No more hiding. No more masks. No more pretending to be strong when you feel like you are going to shatter into a million pieces. And certainly no more trying to hide from your Savior. (A pointless effort if there ever was one).
The following day, an email arrived in my inbox from one of the ladies who was in my small group for the fall’s Bible study. (The same email came to the other three facilitators as well).
This sweet lady was led to write to us after listening to our pastor’s sermon. She was tired of hiding. She could not plaster a big smile on her face any longer, cheerfully declaring that she was fine when her heart was breaking.
His sermon gave her the courage to remove her mask and reveal her heart by sharing her pain.
That took guts.
It is not easy to come clean and admit that life isn’t perfect; that in fact, it is one big mess.
I texted her immediately and invited her to come over the next night. One of my fellow facilitators joined us and we had the privilege of listening to this young woman’s heart. She was raw, honest, and real.
The mask shattered…and her journey to freedom began.
She did not receive the one thing she feared most, which was condemnation.
Do you know why that was?
Because my friend and I have walked long enough with our sweet Jesus that we KNOW how broken we are, that there is NOTHING good in us apart from Him. Our track records are poor and the hopes we thought that this world was going to fulfill have been shown to be absolutely empty, hollow, and meaningless. We have messed up more times than we can count.
But this we know: Jesus is faithful. He redeems, restores, and rebuilds and we can never go so far that His grace cannot reach us.
There were no rocks to throw. Only grace and love to extend. As has been said, the ground is level at the cross. We are all in need of a Savior.
I could weep at the beautiful heart of Jesus. He saw one of His own in pain and filled her with the courage to reach out, type that email, and press send. Then He came to her through my friend and me. His Spirit in us ministered to her hurting heart through our hugs, our encouragement, our listening ears ,compassionate hearts and heartfelt prayers.
When she left my home that night, she shared that she felt as if a huge burden had been lifted from her shoulders. Her life did not miraculously change the next day. However, she now knows she is not alone, that her sisters in Christ are standing in the gap for her and praying on her behalf even if she lacks the strength to do so. She also knows that He is always working even when she can’t see it and that her prayers will be answered in His perfect time and in His perfect way. (We already have a plan to celebrate when that happens. 🙂 ).
All because she was willing to come clean and throw away the mask that only serves to suffocate.
How are you bringing the love of Christ to those around you? While He is with us by His Spirit and speaks to us through His Word, we are not yet with Him physically. But that awesome day WILL come! (Revelation 22:4).
However, we have the incredible privilege of being His hands, His feet, His mouth, His ears, His arms to those precious ones who populate our lives.
Are you sensitive to His leading? Is He bringing someone to mind who could use some of your time or your resources?
Are you a safe place for people to come to who are searching for His hope, peace, and joy?
You don’t have to have all the answers. (Nobody does). You just have to be available.
Have you allowed Jesus to heal and free you enough that you can come clean with others about how He has met you in your sin with His grace?
There is no greater privilege than to represent Him to a lost and dying world.
Your Redeemer lives.
Follow His fearless heart into your world and share that good news with others as He leads.