Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We're All Still Naked



“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” -- Job 1:21


I was reminded the other day that my role in the restoration process is to seek it; God's role to give it. My role to accept it; His to affect it. My choice is to choose it; His is to do it. My role is to desire it; His to design it. He imparts unmerited grace; I offer unending praise.

I know that sounds simple, but it can be confusing. Sometimes we put a great deal of effort into self-restoration, as if we can plow through our closets and drawers and then stand in front of a mirror for thirty minutes and apply all the right cover-ups to be convincing. We wink and strike a convincing pose and switch off the flattering light to turn and face . . .  realistic life. Other times we turn the restoration over to someone else, an individual who seems to have it all together or a group that claims they can put it all together for you in 10 not-so-easy-almost-brutal-tough-love steps. Unfortunately, they may judge you more by your practiced poses of self-protection than by your plaintive woes of self-rejection. Depending on how they view you -- from behind masks of rigid self-righteousness or through hearts of tender brokenness --  they do a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, determining whether you are yet broken enough for their repair work to begin. As bad as you know you are, your acceptance of your badness may not look quite good enough for their goodness. Bless you later?

Bless their hearts. It's hard enough for people to deal with their own sins. Do we really have to do the hard work regarding the sins of others? Yes, and with long-suffering to boot. The problem is, most of us are not open about our sinful nature, so when it raises its ugly head, our gracious neighbors find themselves face-to-face with a threatening Cobra and do what comes natural: run for cover.

There's nothing much worse than for those who really know you to find out something really bad about you that they really did not know.

What we need is a bit of interim nakedness between the womb and the tomb. Post-discovery transparency is a great thing and certainly helps protect against continued falling, but coming clean beneath the bright lights of exposure can seem a bit late in the relationship-preservation game.

A few years ago ,when I was trying so hard to prove to everyone that I was "all better now," I focused so much energy on looking like things were all right that I had little energy left over to make sure they truly were. That's a surefire plan for relapse. Simply put, if being right for the sake of the ones around us was enough, we would never end up so wrong to begin with. Anyone who has a weakness for an addictive sin has an acquired immunity to those who rightly warn of impending self-destruction. Our yellow-brick road is just a little more yellow and becomes so bright it seems the only path available. Suddenly we're glowing road-kill.

How many times do we as Christians have to say to ourselves and others that God sees all, hears all, knows all before we believe all . . . that? Why do we relegate Him to being a God of retrospection? He has no need of hindsight.

Truth is . . . we're still naked as far as God is concerned. All those earthly shopping binges to wrap ourselves in the latest robes of life -- whether they be righteousness or wretchedness -- are for naught, if we don't come before Him, in a non-literal sense, disrobed. We might fool each other with the latest cover-the-fall fashions, but we'll never fool God.

At some point, most people who struggle with sexual or relational brokenness, reach a point where they desperately want to be transformed. Maybe the person they were intended to be has faded so far into the past they don't know even where to start looking. Maybe they have been so derided by people who have long since decided this dog won't hunt when it comes to true change that they have no one to turn to. Maybe they have fooled themselves too many times and spent every penny on tickets on the repentance merry-go-round and they just can't drag themselves into that again without some assurance that the ride might have a different outcome. Maybe, just maybe, they reach a point where it's all "You, God."

Good.

Of course we want things to be right with those we hurt and those we love and those we respect. Of course we want those who turned away to turn around.  Of course we want trust to replace disgust and our present sorrow to be gone tomorrow. Of course we want to count our losses, lick our wounds and come out healed. We want. Remember though, wanting is what got us into this mess to begin with, and, if we want restoration, but it does not come because we're expecting it from people who are not ready or able to give it, we can trigger new wants, born of rejection, a sworn enemy of transformation.

Before you start detailing the plans for all that restoration, remember, it's all "You, God." And He's ready, willing and able. Not only that, but God knows what transformation and restoration really look like. If it was up to me, everything I lost because of my years of bowing to sin would come back, just as shiny and new as it was before I tarnished it. As they say, however . . . perhaps "God has a better plan."

My struggle was a lengthy one and I received a lot of advice through the years, some from people who hadn't a clue what I was going through and some from people who had a clue because they'd been through it themselves. One piece of advice they often had in common:  "You just need to get your life right with God."

And the smugness in me might roll my eyes and declare that advice to be the epitome of dismissive triteness. When all else fails . . . honey . . . "get right with God."

That's awesome.

Or at least it is if you decide that before all others you're going to get right with the Awesome God who created you . . . knows you . . . loves you . . . wants you . . . forgives you . . . and will welcome you now and forever if you will only "get right" with Him. What's trite about that?

In the sense of eternity, everything is interim to Him. No matter what you did today, you're still the naked child in your mother's womb and you are already the one who will depart naked. He sees dust-to-dust all at one time, and that's a breadth of knowledge that can certainly see you through the whole journey if you will just . . . "get right with God."

No matter what you fill your life with -- from sin-driven debauchery to servant-driven self-denial -- there will be lonely times and uncertain times and longing times and hurtin' times. We look for places to go and spaces to fill and things to do that will make life more real. For some, life seems just a home-bound journey and for others of us, it works out more like a tumble through a brier-patch. He sees the beginning and the end, the slip, tumble and the struggle to stand.

And He loves you.

God Bless,

Thom

(For more insight into sexual and relational brokenness, read Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do, available at Amazon.com.)

1 comment:

  1. Emotional and spiritual naledness is risky business. In most churches we are obliquely programmed to be happy, joyous and victorious. The transparency that you advocate and MUCH NEEDED especially onerous for those burdened with sexual hangups and more thorny if it involves homosexuality or bisexuality. Most churches would rather ignore those issues or they are relegated to the pastor, co-pastor or counselor at 45 minutes to one hour sections but the hurt continues.

    The Almighty sees us in all our nakedness and sees our fears and our hurts.

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