“You know what I notice Mama? The bigger someones house is, the more wine they drink.”
This out-of-the-blew, shocking statement, came from my eleven-year-old, on the way to her home-school, school.
I hadn’t planned for some deep theological conversation. But, flying out of country soon, I knew to savor each second with this beautiful girl who was growing in wisdom and stature, with each day passing.
“Interesting observation.” I tell her regarding the wine. Never thinking about it, really.
“Hhmmm.” I stop awhile. Remembering God speaks to this child, in ways grown-ups often miss, if we don’t listen.
Then, I go on…
“You know, we all just have a God-sized hole in us, really. You know that, right?” She nods her head enthusiastically.
“Good.” Clearly I had talked to her about this before.
“Well, we all fill it with something. Some people fill it with wine. Some people climb and climb, but then find, everything they’d hoped for, all the money in the world, the education, the fame….
Just doesn’t help, or make people happier….
Every black hole of sorrow, despair, or longing can only be filled with God. All those other things just hurt, somehow, in the end.”
She listens attentively.
“And yet, none of us are exempt. Futily, we all try to fill our God-sized hole with something other than Christ, at one time or another.”
“Drugs, alcohol….but it can also be money, education, intellectualism, or any number of other things.
They promise hope, esteem, self-worth, or a sense of identity. But in the end, all are void, empty, temporary promises….
Nothing can fulfill, like God can. His hope and peace and joy are everlasting and eternal.”
She stops. Weighs the words I am sharing. Ponders all the people striving, trying to find a “better them”.
She then agrees, “Yes, mom, nothing can make us happy, but Him.”
Synonyms; impersonator, masquerader, pretender, imitator, deceiver, hoaxer, fraudster, fake, fraud, sham, phony.
We all wear masks. We all hide, in something. In fact, us church people can be experts at smiling on the outside, while dying quietly, internally.
Even youth run and grown weary, turning away from the local church in droves because their lives or family have silently experienced pain, swallowing them deeply…
Fake smiles and commercial suits not cutting it, as young people are experts as seeing past plastic exteriors.
And if we are honest, we are a world tired of hypocrites. In politics, sports, on platforms. All around us. So many people trying to impress, trying to force, or strive, or push their own agendas.
But isn’t it true, we don’t want to hear, “Buck up”. We are tired of being educated…by another person’s opinions, by laws or rules, or some popular notion that will move and shift, and change again, tomorrow.
Deep inside, we all hunger for authenticity.
Crave the real, raw, relationship. Someone curled up beside us, “really” getting it, admitting, “I have struggled with this too. I ‘get’ you.”
And yet, we have a Savior who suffered, and identifies with all our suffering. A God who got low, so that we don’t have to keep our addictions, pain, sickness, or fractured relationships…
In the shadows, behind closed doors….a secret.
We want answers. We need the church. We need each other. We desperately are a generation crying out for vulnerability and authenticity.
In Old testament Scripture, people themselves were responsible for “cleaning themselves up” before coming to the temple. They made journeys, offered sacrfices, followed laws and even made-up rules…
Completely external and additional to anything God required.
And yet, how they wept and grieved, covered their heads, ripped their clothes, and labored, draping themselves in ashes, as a representation of their sorrow.
They hid in their homes, while posturing behind harsh religions, as if walking on cut glass in pubic, in case their God might refuse to have mercy or pity on them.
Yet, why do we still do that, here, today? Thousands of generations later?
Maybe we don’t cover ourselves in ash, but instead fancy clothes. We don’t mourn loudly, but instead post every little sorrow on Facebook. Maybe we don’t stand in the streets, make trecks, or give offerings….
But instead, somehow secretly believe; duty, works, labor, or generosity can save us from our sins.
But can they? Ever? Really?
When did we forget, we have a New Testament Savior? One who came not to shame, cast us away, or draw near in hopes to condemn us….
Instead, we have a God who says, “Love trumps religion. Grace is sufficient. Any good thing is a manifestation simply of My goodness….
Salvation is a free gift, unearned, deserved, or given for payment.”
What if we put our false identities on a shelf, and stepped out from the shadows as children who live fully authentic….not as imposters?
In less time than the sun takes to rise and fall again, three people came to me and shared their stories of hearts aching. Thoughts that hurt and burned inside them.
Pain so deep they never felt they could share with anybody.
Why is that?
Why is the safest place on earth, not in the confidence of fellow believers?
What kept them from vulnerability? The lie that if they weren’t perfect, they would be rejected? Why is that?
Did they fear transparency? Had religious rules taught them, perfection is acceptance? Had they worried what “man” would say? Did the struggle of shame, win over authenticity?
As a society, it is so easy to hide in the lies that our knowledge, our understanding of the Bible, our clothes, or wealth, or ability to place a mask upon ourselves and dance like puppets to societies expecatations will somehow save us.
But, there is only one God in heaven.
He draws near to the broken-hearted. He died so that the rules and man-made perfectionism, systems and substances could be thrown in the garbage once and for all.
He died so that we might love and love boldly. That we may come to the throne-room without masks or insecurities.
We know it is by grace we have been saved, so why do we clean ourselves up or wallow in our insignificance before stepping boldly towards the Throne-room of Grace?
It is His arms that are always open. So, let’s admit. We are imposters, faking and pretending…
When we are all sinners saved by grace. Helpless in our own strength. We are all our own, unique kind of hypocrites.
Let’s lay barren and transparent, not afraid of what the world thinks, bold and confident in His grace and mercy.
When an eleven year-old can see, big houses and wine won’t save us…I like to think, we are missing something.
Let’s stop living as imposters, when we were born to be authentic.
UNITE will be back October 9th. Please join us then for a all-inclusive, no-rules blog hop!
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