We use to have a little gathering place in Oklahoma City called the Jesus Lighthouse. It was somewhere around MacArthur and NW 16th and was a place where live music and some food were mixed together so that kids could gather safely and socialize. I had a couple of favorite groups but the overwhelming favorite was “Heartsong.” I suppose that the cuteness factor of the lead singer was part of my attraction. Anyway, they talked about the difference between being lucky and being blessed. I’ll leave the argument up to you.
I am in the middle of a week of remembrance. I have been walking closely with Jesus for 20 years this week. For some in my world, twenty is a long-past marker. Many of my contemporaries never walked the path of the religiously rebellious and deceived. I was SO deceived that I could not see the error of my ways. Anyway, it was during this week 20 years ago that I turned toward the Lord and, under His leadership, began to make a list of every transgression that was unconfessed and unforgiven in my life. It really was the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I could have never, never, never (under my own self-examination) seen the truth of what I was walking. The list was huge and horrible. In the process I began to fear that had never walked an honest and clean day in my life.
A more mature sister in the Lord heard my confessions before the Lord later that week. It must have been grueling. They had been gone ministering that week and she graciously sat with me after a taxing week of her own. I brought it all into the light. ALL OF IT! The Holy Spirit revealed my compromise and self-deception as well as the deeper roots of my strongly-held misbeliefs. The process was terrifying and I had no assurance that there would be even one thing different when I was done.
Grueling task done, I felt no different. In fact, I felt a little heavy and a little afraid.
I was certain that I meant what I said. “Jesus, I cannot help myself; I need you to help me!”
And, He did.
SHE broke up with me. Holy Spirit began the examination and began the cleaning process. The first tentative steps were taken on that broad highway spoken of in Isaiah 35:
8 And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
It felt like luck that I escaped. It seemed that I was in the right place at the right time and that I had somehow fallen through an escape-hatch and gotten away. Whew!
Holy Spirit led me in a new direction. He took me in the direction of obtaining a clear conscience. So then, for me it was not to be enough that I confessed to the Lord and another. God was leading me to make some things right with people I had harmed.
Whoa! That is a biggie! Even in the current days when I share this part of my testimony I have sincere, well-meaning Christians confront me about this. “Past is past,” they’ll say. “It was all under the blood,” they exclaim! Like I said, it was the LORD’S leadership that took me there. And, it is biblical! Those confessions to the ones I had wronged led me into some difficult places. I had to deal with the pain and betrayal they felt as they learned of how I had sinned against them. It was difficult. It ended a few relationships. It altered others. It cost me money. It cost me trust. It taught me the gravity of my selfish acts. (In this decade this is a strange revelation. We are living in the belief that one can do whatever one wants and it affects only oneself. ) I had to confront the fact that MY SIN hurt many people. I tell you what, I did a whole lot of repenting and making-right for a long, long time.
So, here I am in the anniversary week and today I got a phone call. The woman on the other end asked me a direct question (more like a statement really). It was basically this: Did you also sin against us? I answered slowly, “No. I did not sin against you in this way.” Then, more directly, she asked again: Did you sin against us because I know you also sinned against others.
Ow. That hurt.
I felt my mind begin to spin and my heart was racing.
I was trying to listen but I was quickly feeling fear take over. “NO!,” I screamed in my head. “No. I sinned against many but you were not among them.” However, I spoke differently and asked, “What has happened?”
She recounted a bit of their story and I felt helpless and heartbroken….and accused.
Probably whatever I said has satisfied her. I was tempted to defend myself but didn’t.
The fact remains that what she was asking wasn’t at all far-fetched. I could have done something like what she was asking. I just didn’t.
My response and feelings today were truly familiar. It was shame that got me, plain and simple. It nailed me good. “Happy Anniversary to you!,” the Accuser of the brethren said.
My cousin blogged about “shame” recently in her blog and posted a beautiful song by Charlie Hall. Here it is for you to enjoy.