June 25, 2017
Growing up in a household where keeping secrets was the way to avoid conflict, he began learning the practice of hiding behind whispers and unfinished sentences. It was called “keeping the peace.” Time carried him away from childhood into years of adulthood but not from the fear of letting himself be fully known. With an expanding catalog of unallowable topics, his life was a rigid, no-grace way to live. Still, he continued progressing from apprentice to master secret-keeper. For years he was successful and accomplished. More and more he was admired, even envied, by others for what his life had become. However, his loneliness grew wider and deeper. Less and less was he able to recognize himself in a carefully screened world of lengthening shadows. His good soul was singing the blues.
Then a day came, as days do for so many, when the curtain on his stage fell, its ropes, once secure, now frayed and broken.
One afternoon during a melancholy walk, he happened upon a stranger fussing in her garden. There a moment of grace opened with her casual question, “. . . and who are you?” Caught having no ready reply, he ducked into verbal camouflage. “I’m in a time of transition” was all he said. But when he walked away, her question went with him. “Who are you?”
Weeks later the two found themselves visiting over a bowl of noodles in a not at all quiet cafe. By the mysterious, wholly unexpected grace of God, he spoke, saying, “Let me tell you . . . .” Soon, with neither certainty nor fear, he heard himself say the words “no hiding” as he began to voice so many unfinished sentences.
It is only grace, pure, free-to-be-who-God-made-you-to-be grace, that Jesus extends in the gospel invitation to break the silence of fear. So do not be afraid. “Those who find their life will lose it, and those,” Jesus says, “who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39).
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