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Friday, 31 January 2014

The Journey Inward

If I see or sense anything about what God is doing in our time, I see and hear a growing desire for authenticity - and the necessary transparency that involves. We don't want to bear the crushing weight of pretense anymore, or of hiding, or of keeping up appearances. Many of us find we want to - have to - be much more open and honest about our brokenness and weakness. While not without its dangers, and while it has to be negotiated carefully, sensitively and wisely, it is refreshing and liberating to witness such transparency, especially when it comes from leaders and those in 'ministry' who perhaps some thought were meant to have it all together (they often thought so as well and that was part of the struggle!). That's why I am so impressed and blessed by people who are bravely beginning to talk openly about their struggles with 'mental illness' and depression, for example, - people like  my friends Mark Lawrence and Andrea Selley. I honour them for their courage and honesty.

For those of us who, for whatever reason, have felt that this was not possible, or not permissible, in the past, it's a challenge. It's disconcerting at the same time as it is liberating. It lifts off a burden, yet leaves us still uncertain in our steps. But the intimacy of relationships we desire is impossible without it. And authenticity of faith demands it.

I have found that it starts not first with transparency toward others but toward oneself and to God. It means facing up to the truth about yourself. And I don't mean beating yourself up about what you think are your faults. It's much deeper than that. And healthy! A former United Nations secretary general once suggested that although humankind had achieved amazing feats of exploring outer space, we were not very good at understanding our own inner space. He wrote, 'The longest journey of any person is the journey inward.' (Dag Hammarskjold). The old and familiar adage - 'know yourself' - is still so true. Like Adam and Eve, we too easily want to cover our nakedness when God comes looking for relationship with us. That is why the uncovering must come from a place of discovering  we are dearly loved children of God.
The knowledge that I stand before God as his beloved...has freed me to explore some of the most disturbing and dark aspects of who I am. (Peter Scazzero).
And the wonderful thing is that we then find that even the darkness is as light to him (Ps.139:11-12). In what we thought were the darkest corners of our soul, the light of his love is there.

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