I woke up this morning terrified. Not from a bad dream or extreme trial or tribulation I was facing today. I looked at my calendar this morning and looked at the 4 things I am responsible for accomplishing today at work, wondered how I will get it done, and felt a little sense of dread about it all. But this was something more. This was deeper than impossible “to-do lists”. And I feel like I live with this terror, sometimes more subtly, but definitely there, almost every day. I am absolutely terrified that I will be EXPOSED.
I’m not talking about the kind of exposure you get from frostbite, where everything hurts because of the damage done by the cold. Not fear of pain or even embarrassment. Deeper. I’m talking about that fear that I’ll be sitting in class or a meeting one day and realize I’m sitting in my underwear. That “how did I get here and how do I get out without anyone finding out?” fear. I’m afraid that people will discover me for the IMPOSTER that I think I am.
Now, I have 4 children, ages 5-14; I teach a 5th grade Sunday School class; I lead men’s groups. And in all of these settings, I can teach with FIRM conviction that in Christ, I am not an imposter. I have everything I need to live life and godliness. God is taking care of me. I know this. So, why do I sit here this morning dreading something I intellectually know is not true?
Well, I think there are many reasons, but it seems the one that God laid on me this morning has to do with my sin. Specifically, my relational sin. Meaning, the sins I commit which destroy my sense of feeling connected to God. Let me explain with a parable (Ha!). But seriously, let me use my relationship with my wife as an example:
Let’s say my wife was upset about something I didn’t do earlier that she had asked me to do. Instead of stopping to reflect about it, I blow up! I react and say harsh things to her. Now… how am I feeling after I’ve cooled down? Based on what I’m likely seeing in her face, I probably feel pretty rotten. Initially, I probably feel more rotten about myself, why did I do that, what is wrong with me? Have you been there before? So often, I do this with God. I feel bad about what I did, and I turn that bad feeling to myself. Deep down, I feel rotten about myself and despise my many bad choices. And I fear I will be exposed and have to face the “reality” of how someone will see me.
But what if in that moment, instead of feeling rotten about me, I felt more of a sense of deep regret over the harm I caused her? What if I turned to my wife in deep sorrow and expressed how I wish I had not done that, and I know I harmed her? What if, for a moment, I didn’t care what I felt about myself, and simply loved her to the point of restoration and healing? Ironically, I end up feeling much better… not because I proved I’m right. Quite the contrary. But because my relationship is restored and I now probably have a stronger sense of steps I need to take to correct that sin in me. And likely, I don’t even consider being afraid of being exposed about this sin. In essence, I’ve bared all before my wife already.
Such is the way with God and me. Like David’s deep repentance to God over his sin with Bathsheba (Psalm 51), when I see my sin first as an affront to God, I come to Him with deep sorrow and full assurance of what He can do about it. The result? Confidence that today, I don’t have to worry about being exposed. I’ve already bared all to the one who matters most to me, and the one who can actually do something about it. I can rest in the fact that Christ, through His sacrifice on the cross, paid the penalty for that sin and is restoring me to wholeness. In fact, Jesus is our rest (Hebrews 4:11-16). And I’m going to rest in Him today. I hope you do too.