Just a few days ago I asked someone who has been a spiritual mentor to our family for years to come to our home and share with me and one of our children some of their thoughts on death. As usual….I was blown away by the time they spent with us and, most of all, by their transparency. What I had envisioned lasting for an hour ended up lasting for 3 1/2 hours…….a time of teaching, encouraging, prayer and yes, transparency! It was an unexpected blessing for sure.
There were issues about death, forgiveness and restoration that I wanted him to teach me and one of our children…it seems I have been inundated with death in the last two months not just with my mom but with friends who have experienced tremendous loss. After hearing about this mentor’s recent teaching and preaching that I missed out on, I wanted to know more and learn from him. And that I did! I was so encouraged by all that he shared on the subject…..but as usual, we received more than we had imagined………
We had sitting before us a strong man in his faith… a very strong man in his statue…..a man very well versed and knowledgeable in God’s Word….a life sold out for Christ…..who became transparent with us about his failures–to the point of tears. “His grief over his sin” and “tears” were both a testimony to his heart for Christ and his desire on the Back 9…..to go deeper…….to be a “visible to others” life sold out to Christ not just to serve and teach others, but to live a life…seeking to change himself….a recognition of sin….remorse….a “transparency” that opens doors……and makes pathways…. that can be created no other way.
I think of Paul in Acts 17:16, “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” He wanted to reach the people who were following these idols. He took the time to get a feel for the people and figure out what would reach their hearts. He found a place to start in verses 22-23, “So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” From there he began to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
I have learned to appreciate the “authentic way” in which strong Christians have chosen to live their lives…..it has given me the desire….to do the same….”to live out loud” and take off the mask…..and look to God’s expectation and not the expectations of man. To share from the heart….my struggles…my failures…my shortcomings and yes, “MY SIN”. There is something so freeing when you take off the mask…. and look into the mirror of your heart…..to become honest with yourself before a HOLY God…..and then become vulnerable with others. Opening up yourself…..and being transparent….and allowing people to realize YES….I struggle too, just like you!!!
I appreciate seeing a grown man cry. Tears shed over the death of friends, his shortcomings and his grief over people who don’t know Jesus…a soft heart…full of love…yet full of a desire to turn people from sin…and turn them toward Christ….the time was never about him…except only to be transparent with how he was a fallen man, but a man seeking to be more Christ-like…unashamed of admitting failure….but just as unashamed at communicating God’s truth…even if it stings….and convicts….
What I witnessed for myself and experienced during that time is a desire to know Christ more…to Go Deep and Go LONG for Christ….never accepting that I have arrived…..realizing that life on earth is a vapor in comparison to eternity….and living here on earth is about eternal rewards ……that first are mined from a transparent heart to God and others………. a “life” lived in seeking to grow…repent and change…..and being available to share the good news at any time….with anyone…because that “share” could be the hope….that is left behind when someone dies!
I leave you with what Paul understood to be important–sharing the gospel–to Go Deep and Go LONG for Christ. I Corinthians 9:19, 22-23, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”