Sometimes it feels like people are out to get us.
For Jesus it was one out of twelve.
Out of one hundred people, it’s possible that a little over eight people would purposely betray you.
That feels like a lot but when you look at the little over ninety-one who wouldn’t, it’s not so scary.
There are few things more telling, that exposes how people feel about us, than when our brokenness is revealed.
Or as I often refer to, when God takes our insides and turns them to our outside for the world and the church to see.
For some this has been a traumatic experience, for others, not so much.
My experience leaned hard towards traumatic.
I noticed those who drew close typically knew some things.
Either their own brokenness had once been revealed or they walked closely with Jesus and did not make assumptions and self-righteous judgments.
When the dark parts of our hearts are exposed to the light for us to see ourselves more clearly, God is coming to us with an opportunity to repent and know Him better than we thought we did.
I don’t believe for a minute God’s first attempt to get us to pay attention is through a public exposure. Rather, He comes to us over a period of time with gentle warnings.
I’ve met people who heed those gentle warnings, avoiding more injury to their own hearts and others.
The truth is, when our brokenness is exposed, God is still for us.
“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to the light (Luke 18:17, ESV).
I’ve heard this verse preached for forty years from a myriad of theological bents and somehow I missed the beauty of God’s motives when He exposes the secrets of our hearts.
I most always walked away with a sense of needing to try harder, do more, repent better, read more and add fasting to my prayers.
Of course, we can’t throw those disciplines out as if they are unhelpful, but unless we are seeing God rightly, we will make wrong assumptions about who He is and therefore, who we are.
Until we see God rightly, we will think He’s in the 8.33%. We will think He’s out to get us instead of heal us.
We will assume the way we are being treated by other broken people is the way God feels about us. (Sin does grieve God’s spirit but if you have children, you know that feeling sorrow over decisions they make that hurt themselves and others does not change your love or desire to be with them.)
Instead of responding to the kindness and mercy of God when we are convicted, we will get distracted with the shock of how others are treating us. We will also make wrong assumptions about how others feel about us…well, because that’s what shame does.
And that’s exactly the plot of the enemy when exposure comes.
When my brokenness was exposed in 2012 I had just attended a OneThing conference in Kansas City a few months before. While sitting in that conference, God kept highlighting Colossians 3:3 to me.
I decided it would be my theme of the coming year and I would ask Him to unpack it’s meaning.
It eventually became my lifeline.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Exposure feels nothing like “being hidden.” Quite the opposite actually.
I won’t get into the intricacies of what all this looked like for me but God made this verse come alive in me. Apart from that happening, I would have not “died” to what I thought I needed…nor could I have withstood the refining fire He brought into my life.
I would have wrongly assumed He was out to get me instead of heal me.
I would have missed the opportunity to see Him rightly and therefore, see myself rightly.
Tim Keller has a quote that gets shared more than any quote I’ve seen in the last few years:
“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time, we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared to hope.”
Until we clearly see the first, we miss the absolute celebration of the second.
Seeing the first is not about walking around with our head down living out an identity of shame and false humility.
However, until we feel the weight of what Jesus rescues us from, the rescue is either taken for granted or treated like a spoiled child would treat the provision his parents have freely and joyfully given.
The older, or I should say, the more mature my own children have gotten, the more they thank us for what we provide for them.
Even in our stumbling and fumbling as parents, they’ve seen our love for them has not been a duty but an honor given to us by God.
Their gratitude and celebration of that truth does something in our hearts as parents. It provokes us to ask ourselves, “How can we continue to bless our children?”
How much more with our perfect Father God who never stumbles and fumbles in His love for us… because we are His and He is perfect in all His ways!
The exposure that came into my life was a gift of God’s mercy as it allowed me to feel the weight of what I would never be able to do on my own.
I could never rescue myself and you won’t be able to either.
No matter how hard I tried to be a good girl, my own efforts would never last.
God was never primarily after my good behavior but my whole heart…the darkness I knew was there and the darkness I didn’t.
Receiving God’s grace in believing He delights to give us mercy allows us to see our need and not be crushed beyond redemption.
The weight of seeing God and ourselves rightly invites us into the heart of a merciful God who seeks our healing and freedom.
Exposure will crush us beyond redemption if we are not hidden in Christ.
We know this to be true because not everyone survives exposure. Yet, God has planned something way more than our survival.
God’s plan of redemption is to take all the ashes of our past and turn them into something beautiful.
God’s kindness in leading us to repentance through exposure shines a light on the extravagant love of the gospel.
It’s one thing to look at someone who God is pouring out His favor and blessing on and attribute it to their good works but it’s quite another to look at God doing the same thing with those we’ve written off as disqualified as a favor recipient.
It’s why the older brother struggled in the parable of the prodigal son.
The older brother missed that all he had been given was not something he earned but his by association.
He was already a son and to be a son meant to have an inheritance.
To see his younger brother receive His father’s gifts in light of what he knew about his brother tempted him with anger and self-righteousness.
It backed him into a corner of needing to make a choice… and I believe it provoked a question he might have been afraid to ask out loud…
”Who is this father of mine?”
Neither son had seen the fullness of their father’s love and desire to bless them.
God reveals our brokenness because He deeply loves us, is for us, and is committed to lead us into a transparent life marked by true freedom and a genuine love for Him and others.
When that revealing comes, whether it be in a small group or a large, God wants us to run to Him and understand what it means to be hidden in Him.
It’s the place of our protection from those who respond to our brokenness from a place of their own brokenness.
It’s also the place that His refining fires will not destroy us but transform us.
Music is one way God ministers to the depths of my soul. There is a song that’s been recently released that I sing with great identification. Turn it up and let your heart soak in the truth that God loves you and there’s no shadow He won’t light up coming after you. If you’re ignoring gentle warnings, He will keep coming…because His love never fails, even if we do.