I have a previous blog post that I titled, “Practice What You Preach” (you can go read it if you haven’t yet), so I couldn’t give this one the same name, but that same line of thought is what’s on my heart this morning. I want to get real with all of you today. Not that that’s different from any other day…I’m always real, open, honest, and transparent. You will get the good, the bad, and the ugly from me. I can’t stand masks–figurative or literal. We aren’t meant to hide behind anything. So what you see is what you get. I hope you’ll hear me out since that’s such a controversial topic right now…and the figurative one is the one I’m really referring to here.
Why do we think that we have to hide our true feelings, emotions, personalities, or character? From God and from people. I have a hunch, after being on this planet for 40 years and doing plenty of hiding, running, and coping in negative ways. It’s the same reason so many people are walking around with the (literal) masks on their faces everywhere they go (including in their cars while they are ALONE…what even!!!???) I digress. Anyway, same reason–f.e.a.r.
We hide from others and especially from God because we are afraid. We are fearful of being rejected, abandoned, disliked/unloved….the list goes on and on, but really it boils down to these central factors. And so rather than refusing to “mask up” to begin with and just being real, we allow the enemy of our souls to tell us that we must hide (just like he did Adam and Eve back in the garden), in all our guilt, shame, and “unworthiness.” We begin to focus on all that’s wrong with us and why others can’t possibly love and accept us for who we are, so we begin to build walls of self-protection and preservation around our hearts. This makes it very hard for others to get in and truly know us and it makes us very skeptical, untrusting, and always on guard. That’s a hard person to love and earn trust from and build relationships with, from a human perspective.
And even more, from the most important perspective…what does this do to our relationship with God? Yikes. It makes us not trust that He really IS perfect, holy, just, sovereign, loving, good, kind, forgiving. Yet, looking back to that same example I just gave from the garden, God was the One Who stepped in with great mercy, love, and compassion to cover His creation and bring them out of hiding. He does this same thing for each of us. He is our Refuge, our Hiding Place, our Shield, and Protection. He covers us in His mercy and grace when we abide in Him and look to Him to fulfill all the needs that we have. He is the Perfect Papa God that can see through the mask, can reach down into our very heart and soul, and draw us into Himself with this same reassurance and confidence that He loves us, He will never leave/abandon/forsake us, and that we can trust Him no matter what.
So having said all of this, are you able to “put your money where your mouth is?” (Is that just a southern saying or have you heard it before? I ask sincerely because my Texan slang is so embedded in me that sometimes I really don’t know if things I’ve grown up hearing and saying are said in other places). Can I? This is the real question. What do I mean by this anyway? I mean that what I share here is usually uplifting, encouraging, and calling us to action in our faith walk. Can I still do this when things are less than ideal? When a trial comes? When my faith feels weak and shaken? Can I still “practice what I preach?” Or “put my money where my mouth is?” Does my trust in God waver when people hurt me or I don’t understand the big picture of life’s circumstances? What if I lose someone dear to me or am betrayed by someone I once trusted with all of my heart? Then what? Is my faith real and strong and genuine, or is it shallow and weak and immature?
Is it still “on Christ the solid Rock I stand?” Or is it another ground with shifting sand on which I have built this foundation? Trials and tribulation bring substance to this matter, don’t they? We speak a lot of the Refiner’s Fire and we understand that the fire is meant to bring the impurities to the top so Jesus can skim them off and get rid of them, being purified in our faith and walk. So, hard times produce things that may not have otherwise bubbled up to the top. When you’re shaken, you see what was down deep. It’s a necessary part of the process and of our life and faith walk. It’s this way by design. And it’s not uncommon to man. We’re in good company. Every true believer and child of God will go through this purifying and refining process all our days on this earth and likely in many ways. And we can actually rejoice because we know that we are His children when testing comes and fruit is produced in us! Hallelujah!!!
What hit me last night as we entered into, yet again, a period of trying and testing, is that this is NOTHING compared to what is coming. The Holy Spirit spoke to my soul and assured me that my faith IS strong and it will stand. I know this. I have the comfort and joy and peace that ONLY He can give and it surpasses all understanding. The enemy of my soul would absolutely love to claim victory over us, weaken us and make us feel defeated and victimized…but he has NO power over us for KING JESUS HAS ALREADY WON THIS BATTLE. And we are God’s children. He fights for us, defends us, rescues and redeems us, loves us, and walks with us through everything.
So to answer my own question, YES, I have put my money where my mouth is. I will continue to practice what I preach. Today and every day for the rest of my time on this earth and in no matter what may come, MY GOD IS FAITHFUL. He doesn’t leave me or forsake me or abandon me. My hope and trust is in Him. I pray yours is too, brothers and sisters. Hard times are coming for believers (we have a previous podcast over this, too) and we must continue to be about the Father’s business, build ourselves up in our most holy faith, and hold tightly to the One Who sees through our masks and still loves us enough to send His Son to restore and refine us (and tells us to take off the masks…we don’t need them). This is such Good News. Lift up your head. Someone needs to hear this today. God bless you all!