The Power of Life As ‘An Open Book’

Earlier today, I was able to comfort a close friend by sharing with her something really stupid, sinful and awful I had done in the fall of 2002; her comfort was not derived from obtaining yet another piece of evidence confirming a widely-held hypothesis that I am a complete idiot, but rather from my sharing that in His divine plan, God had used an ugly incident in my life 15 years ago for an ultimate purpose. My awful behavior in that moment ended up forcing me to ask myself some hard questions about how sin had entered my life and begun to restrict my freedom.

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann

Just an hour or so later, I expressed a willingness to assist a “friend of a friend” of my wife’s simply by virtue of having had my head split open for surgery in May of 2000. Would I be willing to talk openly about my experiences being treated for a potentially-lethal brain malformation? Sure, why not? All these years later, I am definitely grateful that God allowed me to live through that ordeal, and I suspect both my wife (remarried May 2004) and son (born August 2006) are equally glad that I survived…at least most days they are!

In the intervening years, a progressive shrinking of my “private life” down to almost zero has served to convince me that the single greatest attitude that keeps us enslaved to sin is our unwillingness to be seen as weak or foolish. The strongest chains keeping us in bondage are forged from the stubborn desire we have for others to think we “have our act together.”

The sooner we throw off this sham, the more opportunities we have to help others.

We are all weak and foolish. We all make poor choices – some of us make a lot of them! When we become willing to share our own foolishness as we help others face difficult life circumstances, we are given a great gift; we can turn around and look backward to find that all the while, Jesus has been slowly following along, sustaining, providing and healing us. The healing we receive as we commit to helping others, in turn, leads to even more opportunities to help others heal. Dave Ramsey likes to talk about the Debt Snowball and how it gains progressively more power as it rolls along, but I’d like to humbly suggest that Ramsey got this idea straight from Jesus; the more we serve, the more we ourselves heal. “Healing Snowballs,” if you will.

Lately, as I work my way through Scripture, I’ve been paying attention to every encounter that other people have with Jesus in the Gospel accounts. Multiple readings have had the benefit of helping me see how many times someone comes to Christ with a lot of preconceived notions of how righteous, learned or rich they are, only to have Jesus mercifully tear down their self-glorifying and self-justifying narratives. (Mark 10:17-27; Luke 10:25-37)

My Utmost for His Highest By Oswald Chambers

My Utmost for His Highest By Oswald Chambers

Jesus sees straight through our attempts to hide our foolishness, and He loves us anyway. In fact, He loves us too much to allow us to keep going along, thinking we’ve fooled anyone as to who we really are. In His mercy, He often sheds light on those areas we’d rather keep hidden in darkness – such as my sin-shamed foolishness back in 2002 – and then bring in healing…if we’re willing. If Jesus knows exactly how screwed up we are, and yet loves us, why do we not allow Him to “snowball” the healing in the lives of others by living an open-book life for His glory?

Nov. 1: “You Are Not Your Own”
My Utmost for His Highest
By Oswald Chambers

Do you not know that…you are not your own?
1 Corinthians 6:19

There is no such thing as a private life, or a place to hide in this world, for a man or woman who is intimately aware of and shares in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. God divides the private life of His saints and makes it a highway for the world on one hand and for Himself on the other. No human being can stand that unless he is identified with Jesus Christ. We are not sanctified for ourselves. We are called into intimacy with the gospel, and things happen that appear to have nothing to do with us. But God is getting us into fellowship with Himself. Let Him have His way. If you refuse, you will be of no value to God in His redemptive work in the world, but will be a hindrance and a stumbling block.

The first thing God does is get us grounded on strong reality and truth. He does this until our cares for ourselves individually have been brought into submission to His way for the purpose of His redemption. Why shouldn’t we experience heartbreak? Through those doorways God is opening up ways of fellowship with His Son. Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of God’s purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity. And all the so-called Christian sympathy of others helps us to our deathbed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, as if to say, “Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine.” If God can accomplish His purposes in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him for breaking yours?

One Comment

  1. Judy Sheppard said:

    this has been true in my own life. God wastes nothing.

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