I’m Getting Older

As I get older, the first thing I notice in the morning is the ringing in my ears.  I’ve been plagued with ear troubles throughout most of my life and at this point the ringing just never goes away, complicating what is already marginal hearing.

One of my favorite things to say is, “Huh?”

I get out of bed and my back complains, my knees whine and my ankle grumbles.  My right shoulder tells me if it is going to rain or not.

I can recall days where I literally sprang from the bed without a care in the world except for making a pit stop in the bathroom and grabbing a bite of breakfast before running out the door on my day’s adventure.

I don’t think I have the ability to spring from anything anymore.

But I now kind of saunter, the way I remember my Grandpa doing, and attack the day in sort of a slow stealthy mode.

I guess we all have to adjust over time.  It would be easy to sit back and be depressed about wasting all my youthful energy and a healthy body on the things I once did and have what I perceive as nothing left for now at times.

Thankfully, I have recovery.

Oh I suppose it would be better to just be healthy and not have to deal with recovery.  Or maybe not.

I have learned to deal with so many disappointments, struggles and pain that getting older, slower, stiffer and less energetic are just a couple more things to go after in my recovery process.

Everyone faces these things and that is one of the reasons that I feel everyone could use some sort of a recovery plan in their lives.  But it isn’t for me to say what everyone needs, just to share what I need.

When the biggest obstacle of every day is depression and the bad behaviors and thought life it can cause, I have a plan of attack, principles to apply that keep me stepping on depression rather than allowing it to walk all over me.

I feel that God’s word calls out to people like me, people who need him more than the average Joe thinks he does.  I’m fairly certain that without this affliction, my arrogance would get the best of me.  My depression has nearly killed me at times but it now drives me further into the heart of salvation.

Romans 5:3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

I’ve found that it is more important to endure and learn to rejoice in this life.  No, I still don’t jump up and down with joy when my car breaks down.  I still hop around like a moron, shouting at an inanimate object that cannot hear me.  But I find joy, eventually, even when circumstances say joy is impossible.

I’m about ready to stand up and loosen up my creaky joints to head to work.  I’m sure there will be trouble and hardship outside that front door.  I’m also sure there will be hope.

In the Aftermath

This morning, I sit here in the aftermath of a celebration. Here in this country, we celebrate the liberty and freedom afforded to us living here. It came at a cost. Men gave all so that we may have what we have today in the United States of America.

I wonder what those men would think about what we are doing to the gift they gave us.

Sunday in church, I was reminded that whatever men may give, whatever the price they pay, no matter the depths of emotion and devotion they feel, it is as fragile as a snowflake on a summer’s day. It will erode and fall away.

But Christ gave a gift, a gift far beyond what I credit him for giving. He put aside the things I cling so tightly to, revenge, anger, self-image, and became the worst of what I am while he was beaten down in defeat.

Defeat could not hold him, though, because after three days of it he stood, grasping my chains in his hands, holding the tyranny that sin ruled my life by, my dismal future laying on his bloody and scarred back and he broke those chains, crushed the head of sin and changed my future.

This was not a fleeting victory, but a victory that would stand for all eternity. I have hope because of that mighty gift.

I celebrate it one tiny day a year really. Is that even enough? I certainly have never proclaimed it with the vigor that I have thrown myself into over the 4th of July. Why not? I think I need to begin to place him at the very center of ALL my celebration. He is the reason all other things matter at all. Without him, I am still in bondage no matter how many holidays man declares, no matter how many wars we wage. He is my freedom.

Psalm 118:5 In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
and the Lord answered me and set me free.

His freedom is eternal and it is life. I have so much to be grateful for, so much to celebrate.

Not Another Independence Day Post

If you read my writing everyday or even just often, you may think that I am a little negative. You may get the idea that I am always looking for the faults in my life. If you aren’t around me in person, you may perceive me as a kind of dull person to be around that is all holy holy and constantly preaching to everyone I meet.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I don’t live my life like a depressed preacher wannabe frustrated by everything that comes along.

My son used to race motocross. Before every race or practice session, we would look that bike over. We would check everything we could think of to check. We would top off the gas because running out of gas during a race is a very embarrassing way to lose. We would get the air pressure right in the tires because differing track conditions required different air pressure or even different tires. We’d check the lug nuts that held the tires on. Having a tire fall off a bike is very bad especially when you are twenty feet up in the air. Tires make the landing much more fun. Believe me. I have seen what happens when there aren’t enough tires on the landing.

Sure, we picked that bike apart for a while before the race. But then, Joe would push that bike to its limits and ride it like he stole it. He could trust that it was going to hold together and get him around that track. No matter how he rode that day, the bike was always capable of winning.

So, I get up every morning and check out the nuts and bolts and tighten things up. I make sure I am running right and I’m capable of winning. You may even wonder if I have had a serious moment in the whole day because I think that making people laugh and smile is an important thing to do.

I’m not even all that serious when I fish even though I am serious about fishing. This spring, while landing a huge fish, I was telling a new friend a very funny story. The fish got really cantankerous and uncooperative for a minute or two and I stopped talking. I got the big ornery fish back under control and finished my story and my new fishing buddy got to laughing about how that fish wasn’t going to stop me from telling my story no matter how hard it tried! I had the pleasure of not only catching an awesome fish but I was blessed with the feeling of making Glenn laugh really hard.

There is something about bringing a smile to someone’s face that makes me happy. Making someone laugh their silliest laugh makes me happy times two. I don’t even mind if I sort of fail and make them groan at my feeble attempts at humor.

I once used humor as a mask for my anger. My jokes were sarcastic and hurtful. Sometimes that still tries to come out in me. I can feel it when it does, though. I can always poke fun at myself instead. There’s a true advantage to having a history of so many stupid feats. They make good material.

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Yeah, when I reflect on who I am, I can see my faults and imperfections. I can tighten up the nuts and bolts and check the tires. But that isn’t where I live. I am supposed to use the machine I maintain. If I don’t, I become depressed and self-centered. I don’t trust that God and I have gone over everything and I am ready to go. I can’t live like that anymore. I am going to enjoy each laugh. I am going to be infected by the joy of others when I feel down.

Proverbs 10:28 The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.

I used to hate reading Proverbs. Most of them have two ends. One is a good thing, the other is a bad thing. I lived a lot of my life at the wrong end. I had expectations but I was wicked. My life truly felt like nothing. I hated life. I got up in the morning and did the same stupid stuff I did the day before hoping things would be better but they got worse.

Now I can get up in the morning and do a little fine tuning and have hopes that result in happiness. I once chased for happiness and ignored God’s plan and was depressed. Now I seek God first and get hope and happiness.

One thing is certain. God wants me to spread joy to a very sad and fearful world, even if I don’t really touch all that many people in a day. I have to remember that when I feel like brooding or shutting down.  When those times come, I need another tune-up.

A Little Leviticus

I read a little bit in Leviticus this morning. It is a collection of laws and how to receive atonement for the violation sins. There are instructions for priests and rules of conduct. There are also ways to deal with sickness and times to celebrate. It would be tough for me to give up the life I have now and suddenly begin to live by this set of rules and regulations in order to be saved.

Leviticus 1:4 Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him. 5 Then slaughter the young bull in the Lord’s presence, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, will present the animal’s blood by splattering it against all sides of the altar that stands at the entrance to the Tabernacle.

How long did this take? First, I would have had to kill the animal. That would have been messy. I had to slit a deer’s throat that had broken its neck once. I couldn’t believe how much blood went everywhere. In an instant the grass was painted with blood. As if that wasn’t enough of a mess, then Aaron’s sons would be splashing blood all over the altar. I don’t think I would have enjoyed having the job of “blood-splasher”. I don’t know what these guys other duties were or if they just waited around patiently for more blood to splash. After the splashing, I would still not be done. I would have to skin the animal. That is no simple feat. Cutting and tugging the skin off any large animal is a lot of work. Next, I would be required to cut it into pieces and arrange it on the altar. I’m still not done. I have to wash the guts and the legs and place them on the altar. Then the priest comes out and burns the whole thing. I can see doing all of this on a hot, humid day wearing a robe. By the time a guy got done he would be ready to find some air-conditioning and get some rest. Too bad they didn’t have A/C back in the days of Moses. This whole process had to be repeated as necessary. Be good or get bloody!

Going to church was a little different back in that era. It wasn’t all cushy chairs in climate-controlled conditions with everyone wearing their Sunday best. A man had to go out there and grab his salvation by the horns (or ears or whatever) and make sacrifices just the right way. If he got one detail wrong, it didn’t count and had to be done over again. I have to be honest, it sounds like a terrible way to serve God. It may have been a wonderful aroma to the Lord but it was probably a stinky, sweaty, nasty smell to the men that had to do it. I am thankful that things changed.

Galatians 4:5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

No more slaving away, slaughtering animals and living by a rigid set of rules in order to preserve my place in God’s Kingdom. I am not only free from sin but I am free from the law that temporarily made a way for us to be redeemed. Life is good.

But if this is true, why do we try to continue to write our own law? Why do we insist on making a set of rules that defines us as Christians or sinners? Is it because the commandments of Jesus and the words of the apostles require too much of me? If I live by a set of rules and live in the loopholes and interpretations I can hang on to the old man inside me a little longer. If I live by “Thou shalt not kill” and only injure am I doing good enough? I don’t think so. As slaves to the law we would be required to sacrifice animals and carry out rituals to be saved. Through the sacrifice Christ made for me, I am saved. I have only two rules now. Two rules that should guide me and become who I am.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Sure there are things I simply cannot do and be pleasing to the Lord. But my salvation is not dependent on them. Sin in my life is a fog that clouds my view of Jesus. It deafens my ears to His voice. It weakens my body and spirit and I become frail. It makes me a stumbling block to others. It ruins my relationships and isolates me. But Christ who lives in me will make me an overcomer. I must simply love the Lord my God and others. The darkness will flee if I devote my life to doing these things and allowing Christ to live abundantly in my life.

God, help me to realize the freedom I have to serve you in all things. Show me I am not being saved by my actions. Show me every day that the sacrifice You made was enough to cover all my sins and nothing I can do can add to that. Help me to have your commandments to love You and others live in me and motivate me. Amen.

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I’m Gonna Go Eat Worms

About the time I got into junior high school it became apparent that I was short. I truly didn’t want to be short. I wanted to be tall and muscular. But I was a shrimpy, scrawny kid and I didn’t like it. To make matters worse, all the girls were taller than me and for some reason they preferred taller guys.

About that time the teeth in my mouth (as opposed to the teeth on my forehead) started getting too crowded and began to deviate from the position they should have been into a jumbled mess that could only be described as chaotic.

It was about this time that I avoided smiling so as not to reveal my unsightly dental disaster. My self-confidence fell apart and I became insecure and afraid. I refused to let anyone else know about it, though, and so I became a loud, joking, over-compensating little guy that never let anyone know what was really going on inside of me. But when I was away from everyone else the loneliness and fear would overwhelm me.

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
I think I’ll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones,
Eensie weensy squeensy ones,
See how they wiggle and squirm!

I never actually considered eating worms but some of the things I did out of the rejection I felt made about as much sense as downing some dirty, slimy, headless red wigglers or night crawlers.

Dad never knew the depth of what I felt, I felt ashamed for feeling the way I did. He did, however, realize I hated being short and that I measured relentlessly hoping to find that I had grown a little, tiny bit. He used to tell me not to worry, he didn’t get his height until he was in the Air Force.

That wasn’t very much comfort, he had only reached the height of five feet six inches. I would think, “Oh boy! I get to be a twerp in high school and when I get out I will shoot up to being a shrimp!” Even now, when I get measured at the doctor’s office I try to stretch my spine and attempt to find that last half-inch to make it to five-ten. It never works.

I actually began to grow some and between the eighth and ninth grades I zoomed into the world of average and am very glad I did. But I was still the sarcastic, judgmental, insecure person I had become years before and my life was going to have some pretty tough times because of it.

Jeremiah 15:10 Then I said, “What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay—yet they all curse me.”

If you have known me, you have heard me speak of how great I am. You have heard me boast and put others down. You probably think I have always had a fan club of at least one because I have been so in love with myself.

In fact, I have lived in self-loathing and have tried to make a miserable self happy. It became an obsession and took over my life. I can finally see that I was going about things all wrong. Instead of allowing God to work in my life, I messed up my life. Even though I knew God wanted to fix things for me, I wouldn’t allow that to happen.

Jeremiah 15:11 The Lord replied, “I will take care of you, Jeremiah. Your enemies will ask you to plead on their behalf in times of trouble and distress.”

Jeremiah 15:15 Then I said, “Lord, you know what’s happening to me. Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors! Please give me time; don’t let me die young. It’s for your sake that I am suffering.”

God has always promised to care for me. In fact, He has always cared for me. I have only made it more complicated. I have only added to my suffering. I am such a fool. I can’t fix my spiritual ills any more than I can fix being short or having crooked teeth.

Many of the solutions to my problems don’t come when I think it is imperative that they arrive but they come in God’s perfect timing. I have thought several times that the prophet Jeremiah was a fool for arguing with God. But the truly foolish thing to do is to not argue and decide to disobey. Jeremiah was honest before God unloading all the baggage he carried and God enlightened him. I need to read more about this guy that at times seemed like a whiny cry-baby and see what more I can learn.

God, help me to bring my fears and doubts to your feet. Help me remain there and hear You. Give me understanding that I might not sin against You and those around me. Carry my pain and give me patience to grow at the pace you have in mind. Amen.

Everybody Hurts

Last night I was reminded of something I had sort of forgotten, at least I had let the dynamic nature of the way it affected my relationships with others dim somewhat.

The vast majority of the people I know have stories, hurts and carry burdens I know nothing about.

I guess I don’t know the people I know.

There are people that I have known for years who, unless I establish a deep level of trust and prove my willingness to share in their pain, that are just revealing the very shallowest level of vulnerability.

Of course, I make assumptions about them, that they are stronger than I am, that they are more emotionally stable, that they don’t have the capacity to understand my pain and my flaws.

Those assumptions tend to be wrong.

I’ve found that men I take the time to sit down with, remove the walls between us brick by brick revealing the ugly truth, are much more like me than I often admit.  There are raw emotions that long to be set free, hurts that need soothing and words that need to be spoken.

There are fears that need to be put out in the light where they can be dismantled or at least seen by a posse of cowboys as a challenge rather than hidden away in the darkness where it becomes a monster that haunts until it becomes bigger than the place it dwells.

Sometimes, this is what makes a man or woman transform from having lost themselves to emerging into what they can become.

I need to look at what these things have done for me and take the time to enable others to do the same.  Not everyone will respond the way I think they need to but those that do, can be healed.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

People around me, people pretending to be fine, are walking around pierced, crushed, beaten and whipped.  They can grab the hand of Jesus and step up out of this pain but they don’t know how.  They don’t understand that Christ already took the pain and wants to bring them out of theirs just like he has done for me.

I need to look deeper.  I need to realize that I am not so unique that only a select few need what I needed and continue to need.  Just as God is restoring me and making me whole again, I need to participate in the same for others.

God hasn’t done all this for me so I can be happier with me.  He has done it so that I can do for others what not many are willing to do.  He hasn’t brought me into light to be a showpiece (thank goodness) but so that I can see what I am doing.

What do I want out of my relationships today?  Do I want something for myself or do I want to be Christ for someone else?  I have to answer truthfully or else I am just another guy walking around pretending everything is fine when it really isn’t.  Then I have to be willing to roll up my sleeves and be a real friend to someone.

Someone will disappoint me, someone will hurt me or even reject me.  But that is no excuse for not carrying the message of Christ where it is needed most.

 

Are We There Yet?

The Israelites followed Moses out of slavery to the Egyptians. There was great joy in leaving a place where they felt oppressed and used. A nation without a land of their own was beginning to venture out to blaze a trail to a new place that would bear their name. They were leaving behind a land of spiritual confusion and submission to create a new land where they could serve the one true God and live under their own laws. It had to be a very liberating feeling. They were leaving Egypt. A dream was becoming reality. I can picture the equivalent of a huge wagon train leaving the cities of the eastern United States bound for the unknown of the west.

I’m sure that this is the point in history that the phrase was first uttered, perhaps about ten minutes from the time that the cities of Egypt disappeared over the horizon, “Are we there yet?” Then moments after the first complaint that it was taking too long to reach the promised land, they realized that the very ones that had released them from bondage were on the way to take them back.

This makes me wonder why I have never heard the phrase “Egyptian Giver”. Maybe there is an equivalent to that and I just haven’t dug deep enough to find it.

God stepped in to deliver them from the “Egyptian Givers” as they crossed the Red Sea and they were home free, they wished. Are we there yet? They encountered hardship after hardship and God provided for them. But when they ran out of food in the middle of nowhere with no McDonald’s, no Burger King and not even a Waffle House in sight they became really discouraged. The more their stomachs growled, the more they grumbled.

Exodus 16:3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”

When I get hungry I get pretty crabby. My body starts complaining to my brain, my brain doesn’t want to hear it, all the complaining gives my brain a headache, my brain starts to complain to the rest of my body, my stomach responds by making embarrassing sounds and getting a queasy feeling and the world in general begins to look bleak. Even a couple of crackers can temporarily bring the world back into balance again but I know that sooner or later I am going to have to stuff the empty cavern in my gut with some substantial sustenance.

The Israelites were far hungrier than I have probably ever been. They felt that they would die. They should have known they wouldn’t because they had sufficient evidence that God doesn’t drag His people out into the wilderness to kill them off, but when a person is hungry they think some pretty stupid things. At least in Egypt they knew they could eat even if it meant they weren’t free. They wanted food and they wanted it right now. So God gave them food.

Exodus 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.”

God sent them manna. Manna was…well, I don’t know exactly what it was. It was food. It appeared every morning. They didn’t hunt it or gather it from the area around the camp. It was just there on the ground. Did they have to have food to keep going? You might quickly say, “Yes!” But the true answer is no. God could have sustained them without them taking a bite of food. I think they felt they needed to eat in order to believe they could carry on. So God had to sustain them in a way that they could wrap their minds around. But He did it with something they couldn’t understand. The stuff would rot if they tried to store it. They had to get new stuff every morning except for on the Sabbath, the manna would last an extra day so they didn’t have to collect the food from the ground when they should be worshiping the God that provided.

There are times that I retreated into the clutches of slavery because I didn’t believe that God was paying attention. I felt as if I was alone in the wilderness and God wasn’t with me anymore. I went back to the things God had delivered me from because I mistakenly felt I would not survive in the place God had brought me to. I have wasted a lot of years traveling back and forth between freedom and slavery. That ground between those two places is beat down with my footprints. The place God has been trying to lead me is like virgin wilderness. He wants to take me where no man has gone before. He wants me to trust Him and know that whatever I need to get from here to there is in His pocket and He will give it to me when I truly need it. Those things may be out of the realm of my imagination. They may be things no man has ever seen before.

Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

God, help me to trust in you no matter where I am and how far away you feel. Help me to know that you are my help and you are always ready. You will not let me die. Amen.

My First Bass

There is a photo in existence somewhere around here that my aunt took of me. Every time I see it I have a great memory. It is a picture of a little, crew-cut sporting version of me with a gigantic smile holding my first bass ever. It isn’t a little dinky bass either. It is a nice two-pounder that was the biggest one I caught for quite some time after that. I was really happy in that picture and seeing that kind of smile on myself always brings a grin to my face no matter how tough a day I am having.

I had been fishing at some lake near my aunt and uncle’s house with them and Grandpa. I was really young and had been relegated to messing around with the bluegill that readily pulled my bobber under, got hooked and were tossed back into the lake. My uncle on the other hand had a purple Crème worm and was working his way around the lake catching one bass after another. A purple Crème worm was purple; it was a pre-rigged setup with three hooks in it and a propeller in front along with a few beads. I wandered over to my uncle’s tackle box and saw one in the package. I wasn’t interested in fishing for bluegill with red wigglers anymore. I wanted to use that purple bass slayer that teased me as it lay there in my uncle’s tackle box. I asked my aunt if I could use it. She said no. I didn’t like that. I cast my bobber out onto the water and half-heartedly caught more bluegill as I watched my uncle drag more bass out of the lake. This was killing me. I asked again, “Can I use the purple Crème worm?” She said no. She said no a lot more times. I had made up my mind that the worm laying in the tackle box and me were a match made in heaven. We were destined to team up and catch the fish of a lifetime. Finally she said yes and in a flash it was on my line and I had it in the water. On the second cast, I caught the fish of a lifetime. Well, it gave me a lifelong memory. I was filled with joy because I had managed to accomplish what I set out to accomplish. I can remember being so excited and being told to be quieter because my voice carried across the water and disturbed other fishermen. I couldn’t contain myself though and my success was broadcast to anyone that would hear.

I wish the rest of my life had gone like that. There has been a lot more failure, a lot less persistence and a lot less celebration than I experienced on the summer evening a long time ago. I’ve not been very good at following the example that Christ carefully laid out for me to follow. I should be watching what He is doing and desire the same success He had. But I have always assumed that I should just expect to be on the sidelines toying with bluegill while He caught the big fish. I need to begin to desire to do the things He did, to live like He did.

John 14: 12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. “

Today I need to raise the bar. No more bobber, no more bluegill. I need to believe that I can do all things through Christ just like a kid that believes that purple plastic worm is going to catch a big bass. I need to understand that by following His example that my success is guaranteed. Even if my success is disguised as failure, I need to understand the He has done something special and supernatural that is beyond my comprehension. When I feel like I am not equipped for the job I need to ask for what it takes to do the job just like the kid begging for the right lure to catch the big fish.

John 14: 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Jesus isn’t telling me to ask for a new car or a big house in this scripture. He is talking about doing great things in the Kingdom of God. Anything I need to do God’s work, He will give it to me. I will have the best of the best. I am not going to go out and do big things equipped with a cane pole, a string, a hook and a can of night crawlers. I am going out on the water in a sea-worthy vessel full of big-game tackle and a crew.

God, help me to see that I can do far greater things through you. Help me to ask for the things that further Your Kingdom and not my own selfish desires. Amen.

Don’t Fear What Lies in the Darkness

Over the years, there are things I have encountered in God’s word that I haven’t liked. Generally, these kinds of things, I just chose to ignore. I don’t recommend this approach to studying the Bible. Things that I don’t want to think about or consider being obedient to should be what I pay the most attention to. God’s word isn’t just a confirmation that I am a good guy, it is a guide to transformation into a godly man.

Proverbs 20:27 The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.

I’ve not only resisted hearing anything God might be saying to me in this scripture but I’ve done the old “this only applies to that sneaky looking guy over there” philosophy. Of course, I have probably been as sneaky and underhanded as anyone else on this planet, so I don’t see how I can have had the gall to point out another person just like me while I insulated myself from what this scripture has to say to me.

I’ve looked at this as threatening, as being a curse from God that reveals my motives to the world and exposes me and my messed up life. I’m learning that when I read God’s word, that he isn’t trying to scare the bad out of me, he is trying to put his love into action in my life.

His light penetrates the walls I have put up, the barriers I have erected to protect myself, the lies I spew to conceal my weakness from the sight of others and the gods I serve above him. Most of what I hide isn’t from my boss or my church or my family. It is hidden from myself. I sweep my problems under the rug. I blame my actions on others or on circumstances and deny what is really going on in my life.

God’s light lets me see what is causing my problems and see past the situation I am in. That should not scare me. That should not threaten me. That should show me that there is a target for God’s grace and power to hone in on and destroy those things that are weighing me down and holding me back.

I’ve also learned that my secrets lose their power when brought into the light. Once I have allowed my secrets to be exposed, they just become another one of those things in my life. It may not be a source of pride but it is a part of my testimony. Christians can confess to each other, pray and be healed. I can tell you from experience that being healed is a lot easier on a person’s mental state than trying to conceal a boatload of secrecy.

God cares enough to shine his light on the darkest, dirtiest parts of my life and not turn away. He wraps his arms around me, all of me and takes me in. That light that I feared is a great friend to me now. Lurking in the darkness is not what I need. I want to see the motives that lie deep inside me and see what needs to change. Life becomes a challenge that God can help me overcome when accompanied by his wonderful light.