Secret Places

To live for His glory you must stop living for your own.

Seems like a pretty easy, simple, and black and white statement.  Let me assure you, though it is, yes, simple and black and white, there is nothing easy about it!  Because, you see, for His glory to shine, your lack of it will need to be revealed; for His strength to be found, your weakness will have to come out of hiding.  These were the thoughts that were shaking my very soul last week as I sat in on a study on secrets.  A friend commented afterwards that I had been pretty quiet that night; if only she had heard my thoughts racing, my heart beating wildly, and my spirit shaking hard.

I entered this study not really knowing what God would have for me.  I didn’t recall any “unknown” secrets in my life.  After the first week I could see right past the hard stuff of secrets and I was already to the end of the study in a way – I was already seeing the beauty of making Him my hiding place.

The secret places of me can only be found in the secret places of God (where I am kept safe, unveiled, and treasured).  All other places will expose me, leave me as prey for my enemy, but in Christ I am clothed, safe, and beautiful!  My prayers of late – that I would learn to live fully in His presence…This is a BIG portion of His answer.  Our secrets and all of who we are, are always laid bare before God.  It is why no one could just come and stand within the veil with God.  (Holiness cannot be in the presence of unholiness.)  When the veil was torn, our “bare-ness” was still before God, but now we are covered up/clothed in Christ (wrapped up in His presence).  Now, because of Christ, I can stand in His presence Even more, His presence resides within me!  It’s a restoration of what was lost in Eden!  Not just restoration of what was but something inconceivably more…CHRIST IN US!

(From my journal.)

Done.  There.  Atleast, I thought.  But God’s love is more than I can imagine, and His love will not stop until I know Him fully.  So, He gently, patiently, but persistently goes to the hidden places – the ones you didn’t even think were there any longer.

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Ms. Beth had a lot of good stuff to say in last week’s video, but the part that kept ringing in my heart long into the night and the next morning was “Authenticity with All, Transparency with Most, and Intimacy with Some.”  Now, it’s not as if I haven’t gone crazy with my words before.  In fact, I pray often that I will shut the mouth and open the ears because I want others to know that they are valuable and listened to in my presence.  That said, there are some things I don’t readily share, and what I was left fearing was the possibility that I have left some thinking too highly of me. Now, I do think one shouldn’t go around laying out every detail of their sinful past; remember, “intimacy with some.”  But, I do know that when we try to come across as having never been there done that, we can try to stand and shine in our own strength.  We’ll do it in the name of “I don’t want to dishonor the name of Christ or others who may have been involved” but really the name we don’t want to tarnish is our own.  It’s our one last hold onto the person we wish we had been.  What we don’t realize is that we have given the enemy an opportunity to keep us from full and complete and perfect freedom and joy and communion in Christ.  When we are kept from the very life God has given us, we can only offer others the half-life we are living.  They see only the good stuff of our lives in Christ, but they aren’t getting the full impact of what He has done in us…maybe because we aren’t either.

Do you fully appreciate taking communion?  Does it stop you in your tracks, take a bit of your breath away, and compel you to love and worship Him more?  It should.  When you are lifting His Name high in song, are you praying those words you’re singing or are you singing them as rote as you text a message to someone?  When you pray over your meal, for your day, or before bed, are you lingering over your words, meaning every one of them, or are you just trying to get it over with so you can fill your stomach, jump in your car, or fall asleep?  Full impact, a complete understanding, an overwhelming sense of His grace – it’s no wonder Paul began and ended His letters with such admonitions.

“Paul, an apostle…Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Gal. 1:1, 3)
“Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 6:23)
“And this I pray, that your love will abound more and more in real knowledge and all discernment…” (Phil. 1:9)
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it (their faith), we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Col. 1:9-12)

So what of how people see me?  Am I authentic and transparent?  Do people know me?  How do I know how much to let all people in on while reserving certain transparencies and intimacies for some?  I was going to type, “I have no clue!”  But, I do know.  There are times when I come to the end of me and I yell up to God, “What do you want from me!?” And before He even reminds me, I know.  He wants the same from me that He gave for me.  EVERYTHING.  And He doesn’t want it because He’s selfish but because He truly does “love me too much to give me lesser things.*”  He wants me to have all the fullness of Him – all that I have access to right now, so that I don’t just sit around and wait for heaven. He will continue to take me to the end of me, over and over and over again, if it means that I will know Him just a bit more this time than I did the last.

How will I know when and where and with whom to share?  I will only know if I am so tightly connected to Jesus that I can literally feel His hand over my mouth if I’m supposed to keep quiet or His hand moving away from my lips if I’m supposed to talk.  Can you even imagine such a closeness with Him?!  Oh, I can!  I have had it before and I want it back!  I’ll do anything to feel His nearness, even…this…

For awhile now I have been praying things like: God overwhelm my heart with your love (which I’ve shared before), mold me and shape me to be more like You, let me live like I believe I am in Your presence always, overwhelm me (and my household) with you presence, help me to be more eternally and others focused, let others meet Jesus when they meet me…  I love that when God answers my prayers – shows me He has been listening and that He hasn’t delayed in acting – He does it through many venues.  It’s kind of like He puts it all in BOLD so I don’t miss it.  Recently I have been reading in the Pentateuch, have started Chris Seay’s 40 Days of Lent: A Place at the Table, and a Beth Moore study (one of her shorter ones) with some ladies in our church family.  Sounds like a lot, but it’s actually not.  Well, not physically speaking; spiritually, well that’s a different story.  I asked for prayer last night in my ladies’ study for my Lent journey – seeking to not be the same after these 40 days.  I don’t want to be the same, I don’t want my marriage to be the same, I don’t want my parenting to be the same, and I don’t want my household to be the same…

The B. Moore study is based off of a conference she did in my home state; it’s called Sacred Secrets.  I honestly, after the first night, wasn’t sure what would apply to me.  I don’t currently have any secrets that I’m keeping; at least I didn’t think so. Last night, though, I sat quietly during and after the video, trying to process where God was leading me…what He was doing or asking me to do.  I’ll try to be clear with my thoughts…

I have almost never liked myself or been satisfied with who I am.  I would read lots of books growing up and try to “be” them in a sense.  I would take the characteristics I liked about them and try to apply them to myself.  (I’ve also done this with characters in movies or just other people I watch.)  It makes me cringe to even type that…it really exposes my insecurities and shallowness.  Anyway, after becoming a Christian I finally knew I was in the presence of Love Himself, and though I had some major church family support, at home I was on my own.  There is no longer any blame where my family is concerned; in fact, every time I “messed up” after becoming His, it wasn’t my family I blamed but fully me.  I knew it was my decision and lack of self-control that led me straight into temptation and eventually sin.  We lived in an older home during my high school years.  I cried more tears of shame into that green shag carpet than I remember.  I felt darkness practically eating me alive in the nights of that room…  The mornings were both welcome and dreaded because I knew I could not leave that room until I fell before Jesus, hoping that this time He’d still forgive me…from my repeated sin(s)…  This was a harder reality to deal with because it came after my salvation was realized. I kept wondering how in the world someone who loved God as much as I knew I did could continue to dishonor Him as much as I was.  And how someone who really hated all things sin seemed to be a slave to aspects of it…who even for a short time craved it…  I am emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted from all the struggling/fighting that I’m doing!

Last night in the video Beth stated we should always be authentic, be transparent most of the time, and allow intimacy some of the time.  It was those three statements that have continued to unravel me throughout the night and into this morning. I don’t want people to know those things about me, not really.  I mean, I do remember praying that God would redeem the days and use even those weaknesses to bring Him glory; so, as I have thought about it, I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that if I keep all this to myself all of my days then His glory will not be given the opportunity to shine.  I don’t deny them if asked, but I don’t offer them up.  I was trying to think if I’ve ever tried to live fake before others.  I do know I try to live discreet, not wanting to lay it all out there…for all to know and see, but I think possibly in my silence, I could have caused others to think one way of me, while I know the truth.  I do try to be authentic – not being one way in my home and another way around others… But, oh, those words…they have begun to undo me.  I do not want to live fake, and I do see that if I yield to this re-shaping of me, this exposure if you will, that so many of my prayers could come to fruition…this is scary.
(The above was taken from a letter I sent to a friend, one I know I have an “intimacy” with.  Some things are deleted, but the gist of it is all out there.  Lord. Have. Mercy.)

“…but on my on behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses…for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me – to keep me from exalting myself…And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:5, 7-10)

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

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“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1)