Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Transparency is Better

            Do you want to please God?  Do you try hard to make sure that your prayers are polished and pleasing-sounding?  Do you “pray the right words, in the right attitude, in the right position”?  Do you make sure to keep all the ugly thoughts and feelings to yourself – the fears and doubts and anger – so that you don’t offend God?
            If so, then you need to know something: God is waiting for you!  God is waiting for you to stop being so concerned with “pleasing” Him and to start being more concerned with drawing nearer to Him. 

            He is waiting for you to open up your heart in all humble honesty, pouring out what is really inside of you.  He doesn’t want the false, polished front, where we give Him only the “pleasing, acceptable-sounding” stuff while hiding the pain and doubts and fears and anger.    We are not protecting Him anyway from the ugly stuff inside of us because He already knows it.  He is just waiting for us to start being transparent with Him.  Transparency is a huge part of humility.  Because it is only by being real with Him that He is allowed full access to our hearts and minds and lives.  Anything less creates distance between our heart and God’s.  And if there’s one thing He created us for and that Jesus died for, it’s closeness.  A genuine relationship with us.
            Reading the book of Job today, I was struck by a few thoughts.  1.  Job poured out his anguish before God, the pain, doubt, anger, and confusion.  2.  Job’s friends tried to defend God by scolding Job and making all sorts of righteous-sounding arguments about how Job was just getting righteously punished for sin and how he was dishonoring God by talking the way he did.  3.  And while Job got “blasted” by God for what he said in his anguish, it was Job who was asked to pray that God would forgive his friends, the ones who thought they were so righteous-sounding yet did not speak right of God.  (Job 42:7-8)
            Yes, God scolded Job for what he said.  He set Job straight by reminding him of Who He is.  But the point is . . . God spoke to Job.  He replied to Job.  He didn’t bother to reply to the friends who thought they “knew” God so well. 
            At first, I wondered why God scolded Job for what he said in his pain, but didn’t scold the friends for not speaking right of Him.  And then I realized that it all has to do with the relationship, with humility.  The friends held God at a distance with all their righteous, proper-sounding, lofty speaking about Him.  But Job spoke to God.  Job had an "intimate friendship" with Him.  (Job 29:4)
            And even in his pain, Job reached out for God.  He opened his heart and mind in complete humility, pouring out all that was within him before the Lord.  The pain, the doubts, the fears, the questions, the anguish.  He didn’t try to polish it all up first, to make it presentable to God.  He was an open book before Him, whereas his friends were “righteous and smart and proper.” 
            And this is why God spoke to Job.  He spoke with the one who spoke honestly with Him.  He spoke with the one who opened his heart up to Him.  And He stood up for Job later, saying that Job basically did right by Him, even though the friends saw Job's kind of honesty as dishonoring and disrespectful and disgraceful.  But for all their righteous talk, it was Job who was asked to pray that God would forgive them, because Job had the right kind of relationship with God.
            I used to be like the friends, doing my best to protect God from the ugly, displeasing stuff inside of me.  But as God has been helping me learn humility, I have been learning to be completely honest and open with Him.  To some people this comes easily.  But to others - especially over-achievers, perfectionists, people-pleasers, the timid, those who have been hurt and have a hard time trusting others, even God - we need to learn that it’s okay to be transparent with God.  In fact, if we want His love and truth and healing to reach deep into all parts of our hearts and lives, it’s essential.  So just remember, God draws near to those who draw near to Him.  He is close to the broken-hearted, to those who cry out to Him.  Do not settle for distance, for “pleasing, proper-sounding” prayers.  Go for intimacy.  Go for transparency.  Go for humility.  And you’ll begin to find the kind of relationship with Him that you were made for!