Trust Me

Level of transparency – this is something that I have debated internally many times.

It’s a valid debate. Lack of transparency inhibits being there for those that need to hear that they are not alone in their struggles. Too much transparency becomes counterproductive as we expose loved ones to unnecessary hurt, and risk inadvertently encouraging others to stay in their brokenness (“Well at least I’ve never done anything as bad as him”).

Recently, as I prepared for a church presentation which called for openness about my personal struggles, I trudged through this internal argument once again. And as it transpired, I slowly came to realize that the issue was a matter of trust.

“Can I trust people with my revelations?”

“Can I trust that they will not react harshly?”

“Can I trust that they will continue to love me and support me?”

“Can I trust that they will not jump to conclusions?”

I concluded that no matter what arguments I made regarding why I should or shouldn’t be transparent, and to what extent, underlying it all was this issue of trust. I just wasn’t sure I could fully trust everyone in my listening audience.

Then I heard it.  So subtle that I almost missed it, yet so profound that I was certain it could only be the voice of God.

I’m not asking you to trust them. I’m asking you to trust Me.”

You see, God isn’t looking for us to obey because we trust that it will sit well with other people.

He’s not asking us to do what He has called us to do because we can trust that others will support us and not judge us.

He’s asking us to serve Him because we can trust HIM to carry us through whatever comes.

Look at scripture.

In Acts 9, God calls a man named Ananias to go heal Saul of Tarsus, and Ananias essentially says “Lord, that is the craziest idea I’ve ever heard! Don’t you know that guy’s killing Christians?!” But God says “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (v 15, ESV).

God was telling Ananias “Don’t trust Paul, trust Me.”

In Exodus 4, Moses is arguing with God saying “They [the people of Israel] will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say ‘The Lord did not appear to you'” (v 1). God then proceeds to instruct him regarding a series of miracles (turning Moses’ staff into a snake, making Moses’ hand turn leprous, turning water into blood), and God says “When they see these things, they’ll believe I sent you.”

God was telling Moses “Don’t trust the Isrealites, trust Me.”

There are other examples throughout scripture and history. We don’t have time for all of them here. But believe this – God is trustworthy, and He is asking you to put your trust in Him…and not anyone else.

“So we can confidently say,’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6)



Brick Textures 040Having just completed a book filled with many personal testimonies, I was reminded of what God has been emphasizing to me for some time:

Each of our stories is valuable.

This was not a ‘Christian’ book. It was intended for a more universal or agnostic audience. Yet the stories repeatedly attested to the way God delivers people from the deepest, darkest places – even when they don’t specifically recognize it’s Him doing the delivering.  

If people who do not acknowledge the one true God can reveal His faithfulness, how much more the believer who knows exactly Who is behind every good thing in our lives (James 1:17)?

Granted, our stories can be ugly and painful.

Sometimes we are left wondering if things can ever be fixed, but in those cases God gives us the grace to press on.

Sometimes what we thought was unfixable is redeemed and becomes more beautiful than it was even before we screwed it up.

Sometimes it’s never fixed, but we later realize the ‘fix’ wasn’t what was needed after all.

Whatever the case with your particular story, it is worth sharing. It may be the encouragement someone out there desperately needs. So be faithful.

Too often we let the enemy convince us that our story isn’t useful. That it won’t do any good. It’s too ugly, too embarrassing, too mundane, or too common to be beneficial. His arguments against telling our stories seem limitless.

But there’s a reason Jesus said he was the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Whatever discouragement he is whispering to you, it’s simply not true.

He’s probably whispered a few more lies to you even as you are reading this:

God can use you without your story.”

If you don’t tell your story, no worries – somebody else will come along.”

Maybe your story is worth telling, but you’re not a good storyteller. Good story or not, it will sound dumb.”

People could use your story against you.”

Why are you reading this guy’s blog anyway? All this ‘feel-good’ talk is just setting you up for disappointment.

Lies! Don’t believe them.

Stay faithful. Be willing to speak. Let God take it from there.

Our trials and struggles bring two universal benefits to this life: our own personal growth and the encouragement of others. If you’re not willing to share your story, you completely nullify that second benefit.

One caveat: be careful of “suicide by transparency.” As I’ve cautioned previously, there are places for your full story and places for discernment. Different settings call for varying degrees of transparency.

Eighty years ago, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous got it right when they urged alcoholics to share their story with other alcoholics who may be helped but use discretion in public forums for their own well-being and that of their loved ones. This was wise advice then, and has stood the test of time as part of the most successful recovery program ever established. 

Sometimes face-to-face story-telling needs to be tempered with caution and restraint. 

Sometimes a full disclosure of your story needs to be done with a level of anonymity.

And sometimes, in the rare occasions when you know you’re face to face with someone who can relate and will benefit, the storytelling needs to be bloody, raw, and painfully transparent.

If you trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you will know which situation is appropriate in the moment.

But don’t let Satan steal your voice. Never let him convince you that your story isn’t worth telling. Share what God is doing in your life. Take the risk, and make a difference.




Stepping Out on the Ledge

Abraham Maslow established that at our core we need safety.  Just above the foundational needs for physical sustenance, there is that need for safety and security.

We build around ourselves networks of safety.  We gravitate toward friends who are safe.  We get an education and work experience in an attempt to ensure our safety economically. We seek out church fellowship in order to find spiritual security.  We arrive at compromises to make sure our relationships with the ones we care about are safe and secure.

Sometimes, those efforts and compromises result in construction projects to wall off parts of ourselves that we think are ugly or repulsive to others.  We have secret battles with things we know aren’t acceptable – sexual brokenness, hatred, anger, substance abuse, lying.  These things can’t be known because the exposure could undermine the work we’ve put into our safe and secure bubble.

Yet in many ways the masquerade itself gets in the way of true safety and security.  

Because even while we worry about what others would think if they knew, we are secretly wondering if they know anyway.  Is there something I have said or done that blew my cover?  Is there a chink in the armor I’ve so carefully woven?  Are people seeing the very thing I’m terrified they’ll find out about – keeping it to themselves out of kindness or fear of confrontation, yet secretly wagging their head at me over it?

Freedom comes when we stop clinging to that fear of what might happen, and take the risk of stepping out on the ledge and being open with someone.   

It comes because we find that when we turn on the lights, the looming shadow on the wall before us is only a harmless object sitting on the windowsill.   The lurking demons and threatening monsters disperse.  The consequences aren’t so overwhelming or unbearable.  The result is not disaster, but liberty!  

Oh, it’s not comfortable.  Trust me on that one.  Being out on that ledge is a very vulnerable place.  We wince a lot there, anticipating the fiery darts of accusers. And we can experience hurt.  But when we know it’s what we need to do, and remember that Christ is with us out there, there comes a point where we realize it’s all going to be okay.

Sometimes we’re pushed out onto the ledge.  That was me.  Looking back, I know stepping out there on my own would have been the right thing.  But the prospect was too frightening.  So God found it necessary to give me a nudge.  Because I hesitated on being open with someone, the walled off parts of me became exposed to a wider audience.  He did that so I would deal with them.  He did that so He could use me.  I know that now.  But it could have been different. I could have stepped out there myself.

One final word: nobody should step out on a ledge wearing a bullseye before the mob.  Stepping out on the ledge doesn’t mean that it has to be an act of public confession.  Because unfortunately, human beings are….well, human, complete with opinions and speculations and assumptions.  And therefore public confession can easily turn into public suicide.  So don’t go bounding out there with reckless abandon.

But do look for an opportunity to let someone – just one person – in on what you’re dealing with.  Don’t let those walls, built so sturdy with the bricks of guilt and shame, held fast by the mortar of fear and dread, hinder you.  Determine to be open.  Step out there, and discover freedom!