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Out in the Open

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Last summer CNN International broadcast a story about a pastor in Australia who did the hard thing and came clean with the truth. His body was wracked with an illness that was eating away at him. For two years he had convinced people that he was dying of cancer. He had even written a song, “Healer,” about having faith in the One who could restore his health. His story and that song inspired many.

But then the pastor revealed that it was not cancer that was ravaging him—it was sin. Such was the power and the shame of that particular sin that he went to extraordinary measures to keep it hidden in the darkest places of his heart.

There are consequences to the pastor’s revelation. Sin never is just about us—many people are hurt, angry and feeling betrayed by this man’s deception. They will struggle with forgiving him and letting go of the bitterness. I wonder if he too will find it difficult to forgive himself. It’s not clear what motivated him to finally come clean, but one thing is certain—he’s living in the light now, facing it all. And that is good. Healing can happen; the sin and shame no longer have power over him.

Much was said about pulling the song from the airwaves because it was created from a lie, yet when I listened to it, I heard the desperate cry of a man who knows he’s sinned greatly and needs a Healer. That song probably came from the most honest part of his heart. It was a cry of faith at its deepest for his Savior to set him free from the sin that so entangled him.

Something about that cry must resonate in our own hearts. I wonder how many of us have lived where that pastor did, putting on a public mask, hiding from others in our struggle against sin, living a double life, burdened by guilt and shame. How many of us are at that place right now? When faced with our sin, don’t we too cry out, “O Lord! Heal me! Please set me free!”

What about those who, because of the weight of the guilt and shame of having failed again, can’t even bring themselves to pray? And when they do finally turn to their Healer, all they can say is, “Lord, please . . . please help me.” There is such freedom that comes as we let the Light shine into the dark places of our heart. Yes, it is painful. Yes, there are consequences. But it’s worth it to break free from the bonds of sin and shame that would hold us in darkness rather than in the Light.

I believe there’s a challenge to each of us in this. First, are we truly walking in the light? In humility and repentance, are we honest with ourselves and God that we are “ragamuffins” (to use Brennan Manning’s term) and are trusting Him to complete what He has begun in us? Then, do we have someone with whom we can be real, who will hold us accountable? Someone who will pray with us through those struggles? Are you such a person? Are you a safe place for others, where they can be real with you?

I’m grateful for two ladies with whom I can be completely honest about everything. They challenge me, encourage me and pray for me as well as keep me accountable. I can’t begin to express what a blessing it is to have them walking with me. If you don’t have such a person in your life, I strongly encourage you to pray that the Lord will help you to find one.

Let us be such encouragements to one another that we may all live in the light and in freedom.

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