If you have a dark secret you’re constantly hiding, there’s a heart issue there. Can I talk to you just as a fellow dark secret guy? God’s given each of us a certain amount of vitality and energy to walk in joy throughout life. The thing about hiding segments of who we are is that it takes up an unbelievable amount of energy to do it. So the energy given to you to do life well is used up on trying to hide stuff. Here’s another thing. It is impossible to truly love or receive love if no one knows who you really are. Because if anyone tries to love you, it will be too easy to deflect them and say that they actually love the version you are presenting, not you. It’s hard to accept love when you think that if anyone really knew who you were, if they found out all the dark secrets of your past and what is in your heart, they’d run away from you faster than Usain Bolt on steroids.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” – Proverbs 28:13
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1st John 1:9
It is absolutely devastating to walk in a perpetual secret. If you are controlled by something, if something just owns you, if you just can’t conquer it, whether that’s an addiction to food, or drugs and alcohol, or pornography, or explosive anger, physical abuse, etc. you have a heart issue. Some people are addicted to laziness. They just can’t help but be lazy. This is also a heart issue. If you can’t seem to forgive this person or that person. Few things are more painful than knowing you should forgive and not being able to figure out how. If you’re constantly depressed or melancholy, if you just have no real affection for God and you feel like you’re always in the desert, these are heart issues.
Whatever controls your heart, will control your behavior. Your functional treasure is whatever sits on the other side of your “if only.” We all constantly forget that sin will take us further than we wanted to go, keep us longer than we wanted to stay, and cost us more than we ever wanted to pay. Many of us never really consider the weight of our sin, or the people it will hurt before we indulged in the fleeting false satisfactions that never deliver the lasting joy they promise.
So let us lay down some rails. Our faith is very personal, but it is not private! If you think any of this describes you, what are you waiting for to address these problems? Do you have a close friend you can go to with these issues? Have you found a group of men and women who come together with similar struggles in hopes of getting to the core issues, getting to the root issues? I’m not saying that if you do confess and join a homegroup or something somewhere, all of the struggle simply goes away. That would be a lie. There are no magic potions or quick 12-step programs to cure all of this for life. This is a part of positioning ourselves under the waterfall of God’s grace in the hopes that He would move. This is pulling weeds while begging God to make it rain. This is us acknowledging our deep need for our Father’s love, realizing that we are far worse than we ever dared to believe, yet in Christ, we are far more loved than we ever imagined we could be.
I know some of you reading this are already in your mind trying to justify why you can’t come clean about a particular dark secret, or you’re just too busy to give up a morning or evening to begin to deal with it. This reminds me of a comedian I heard one time talk about a friend of his who just would never go get his eyes checked despite the fact that he was nearly blind. And his joke was, “How can seeing well not be at the top of your to do list?!” How can having a lonely, broken, fractured part of your heart and soul mended and restored, not be high up on your to do list for 2013?
It won’t be easy and of course it’s going to take a while to feel like you’re making progress, but you’ve got to fight for it. Your relationship with Christ, your spirituality, although immensely personal, was not designed to be private. The more you make your struggles and your victories private, the more you turn sanctification into a crawl. It was not designed to be that way. We were designed to have spiritual fathers and spiritual mothers, spiritual brothers and spiritual sisters, spiritual sons and spiritual daughters. We were designed to live in community; to have men and women above us who speak life and encouragement into us and walk with us, and men and women underneath us whom we can serve, help to guide, and mentor. This dark secret or perpetual struggle you’re dealing with isn’t going to just go away without grace, and biblical fellowship and community. Life doesn’t work well when you go, “I, all by myself am going to fix myself.” That’s not how life works.
“Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” – Probers 15:32
There is still some danger here though. Like so many of us start with new year’s resolutions, as we go further into 2013, I think many of us are going, “This is what I need to do. This is the step I need to take. This is where I need to go.” Let me speak a word of caution for all of us though: the Lord takes the proud and sets them loose in the imagination of their hearts.
Let me try to explain that a little better. What happens to the proud is they spend the bulk of their day and the bulk of their mental capacity on “what could be if they would have.” So they go, “Oh, if I would have just taken Spanish more seriously, I’d be fluent right now… Oh, if I knew then what I know now, how much better of an athlete/student/employee/etc. would I be… Oh, if I would have just chosen that instead of this… Oh, if that relationship had just made it through that rough patch… Oh, if I would have moved there instead of moving here… Oh, if that opportunity would have come instead of this… If I would have avoided this person and gone with that person… If I would have just been there and not here…”
So when we operate this way, all our energy is spent on “What if… what if… what if…” to the detriment of our present and maybe even almost to the damnation of our future. There is no future if you’re stuck in the imagination of your heart. There is no future if all you’re mental vitality is stuck in “what if” land. You’re perpetually never where you really are, always wishing you were more, always wishing you had more, always looking back to a past to fix your present rather than there being any real energy today to have God do something mighty so that tomorrow you’re all that you hoped He could be in you. It’s an endless crazy cycle. It happens to tons of us. I’m not saying I never struggle with this. We’re perpetually stuck in this imaginary world of “Oh, if I just would have…”
How about we just do, now. Well, today kind of stinks… Today is painful and you don’t really like where you are today. Okay, my day hasn’t been perfect either, but that doesn’t get solved by fantasy. Science is not going to develop a time-machine, you’re not going to find a magic lamp in the desert, you’re not going to find a hidden portal somewhere in the depths of the sea… so you’re not going back and changing anything! That’s why the gospel is so important. You’re not going back and changing anything. Christ has already, in the cross, redeemed whatever is back there! But you’re not going back. The decisions you have made, you’ve made. The decisions you have not made, you haven’t made. That’s yesterday.
So, please don’t sacrifice today and tomorrow because of fairy tale “what if” land. Please let go of your pride, stop telling yourself that you’re too far gone and your past is just too dark, let it go and find some close brothers and sisters to walk with this year. And continue to walk with them. Please, remember there is always hope to be found and enjoyed in Christ Jesus. We find our grace-motivated strength not in our own willpower but rather in the fact that all of our sin (past, present, and future) all of our struggles, all of our shortcomings, and all of our failures were paid for, in full by Jesus Christ in the cross.
Proverbs 9:13-18; 15:31-33; 28:13
2nd Timothy 2:1-26
1st John 1:9