When Your Inside Doesn't Match Your Outside
My wife Merideth and I have started doing something to push back against the darkness, and to start our mornings off well. We stopped watching cable news in the morning. In fact, we stopped watching any kind of news at all on the TV--or listening to it on the radio.
Instead, we crank up some inspirational music on one of the Christian stations on our Pandora account. If you aren't familiar with Pandora, just go to Pandora.com and you'll learn all about the wonder of streaming, online radio. It's miraculous.
This song by Christian artist Lauren Daigle was playing on the Pandora station Merideth chose today:
God I give You all I can today
These scattered ashes that I hid away
I lay them all at Your feet
From the corners of my deepest shame
The empty places where I've worn Your name
Show me the love I say I believe
Oh Help me to lay it down
Oh Lord I lay it down
Oh let this be where I die
My lord with thee crucified
Be lifted high as my Kingdom's fall
Once and for all, once and for all
LAUREN DAIGLE, PAUL DUNCAN, PAUL MABURY
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
"From the corners of my deepest shame/The empty places where I've worn Your name/Show me the love I say I believe."
Those words are so difficult to hear for those of us who claim to follow Jesus. Because if we are being honest, there are lots of empty places in our lives where we've proclaimed to "wear" Jesus name as a covering, but deep inside have nothing but shame.
We might say that we believe in the amazing grace of God and the never-ending love of Jesus, but far too many of us dare to believe that same love and grace has really been extended to us.
Which is why so many Christians are angry and afraid. It's why so many of us spend our time pointing out all of the things that are wrong with the world around us. It's why churches are notorious for being filled with judgmental, critical people.
What we see so clearly in others we first see clearly in ourselves.
Jesus had a warning for some religious people who held this kind of inward shame that resulted in outward hypocrisy:
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
These people were unrepentant, so Jesus gave them a prophetic word. "This is what you look like, but in reality you are something else. You are like a painted tomb--you look great on the outside, but you're dying on the inside."
"You are like hidden ashes from the corners of your heart."
Which is why the song I quoted above reaches me so deeply. I know those ashes, I know those empty spaces and the struggles I sometimes have to truly believe in the love I say I believe. And it is why I also pray, "Oh help me to lay it down... [Jesus] be lifted high as my [pathetic] kingdoms fall... Once for all, once for all..."
May your head be lifted up today in joy as you open up the dark corners of your soul to the Light of the World. May your doubts be overwhelmed by love and mercy. May you lift Jesus up and let all of the ruined castles of your own kingdom crumble. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.