Some of you may know that month Jim, the kids, and I moved to southern Indiana as a result of his accepting a new position as head of school for Lighthouse Christian Academy in Bloomington. While this is the third time our family has moved premises, this was by far the biggest change of scene for us all. The distance wasn’t the only factor, though moving hours away is a far cry from the puddle jump moves we have made in the past. We were leaving behind the only community the kids have ever known, as home base at least. The church they were baptized in as infants; neighbors, schools, childhood friends, and on and on it goes. It has been disorienting to say the least.
Packing up the house, we discovered all sorts of things, some good and some not so good. Items we thought were lost were found; dirt and dust we didn’t know were accumulating was discovered, etc. And then we went about the process of repositioning old furniture in a new setting, sorting through forgotten boxes and deciding what to keep, what to pass on to others, and what to throw to the curb. This new setting has helped me to see our possessions in a new light, both literally and figuratively. And this is true of me as well.
The combination of quitting my job which, for the last two years has consumed so much of my time and energy, and moving out of the community I have spent my entire adult life in has been a great opportunity for self-reflection. For me, as I am sure it would be for many of you, self-reflection is usually an opportunity for self-berating. Critical evaluations of oneself aren’t always a bad thing, but too often I use it as a chance to focus on my flaws, cry to God about what a failure I am and crawl into a hole of embarrassment and shame.
Recently, however, I have been trying to take a different approach. I’ve been attempting to see my moral failings with gratitude. If I never see areas where I am weak, how can I grow strong? Yes, it’s unpleasant to have one’s frailties and faults exposed but the alternative is much worse. I must ask myself, do I want to have the appearance of goodness all the while hiding my sinful thoughts and deeds or do I want to expose them in order to grow?
Imagine going to the doctor because, while appearing perfecty healthy, you know there is something internally wrong with you.mThe nurse comes in and hands you one of those delightfully revealing paper gowns and tells you to get undressed so the doctor can diagnose the issue. Are you going to be uncomfortable? Clearly yes, but you have a choice: get uncomfortable and be exposed or stay clothed and continue to get sicker. We are faced with the same choice when dealing with our sin and the Great Physician. He cannot heal us unless He first exposes our disease.
Now I am not calling for some sort of celebration of sin. Not saying that we should all start indiscriminately dropping our metaphorical drawers and glorying in our exposed failures. There is both a time and place for sharing our sin through confession, both with God and with others. Just as none of us particularly want to see people traipsing through the malls in paper medical gowns, I don’t think we should go about broadcasting our moral failures in an attempt to normalize behavior which we are biblically told is wrong.
What I am calling myself to do is to see my sin coming into focus as a starting point to begin from rather than a finish line I failed to cross. From this starting point, I can start the journey, first to repentance and then to growth and freedom. The diagnosis is just the first step; it doesn’t immediately bring the cure. But it is a necessary one without which there can be no healing.
This move was not one that I looked forward to. But I am grateful for the chance to see myself in a different light and to grow as a result. One day, I will make my final move, from earth to my heavenly home. Then I will have the chance to see myself in the light of God’s Glory, clothed not in a flimsy exam gown but in Christ’s righteousness. Then I will be diagnosed, treated and cured, surrounded by the saints and home for good.
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