Christian Self Help
The Line In The Sand
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(Part 3) The Line in the Sand - Chapter 10. - SpeIunking
The line in the sand has grown into a canyon. There is enough distance in your relationship that you feel deserted and alone even though you are still together. Take some time to inspect the canyon. Look closely at the layers conspicuously lining the walls. Many years of sediment, layer upon layer are exposed to the scrutiny of whoever desires to look at it. Buried there (and ironically exposed) are memories of the good, the bad and the ugly. It will take some precious time to evaluate all of those things because, as you know, it took precious time to put the layers there.
Have you ever seen a cave and wondered what was inside? There are some adventurous people who make spelunking a regular part of their lives. They seek out caves and caverns and intentionally go inside. They carry with them many specialized tools and very powerful, bright lights. With excitement, they thoroughly explore and reveal the inner beauty of the cavern, pressing on into the deepest and darkest places hidden inside. As the bright light hits the walls for the first time, the darkness is pushed away by the light and the secret places are revealed.
The light is a tremendously powerful tool for the spelunker because there is nothing that can remain hidden when exposed to the light. Similarly, you and I are much like a cavern. Whether explored or not, we are caverns filled with the darkness of our sin waiting for the Great Spelunker to enter in with His awesome and revealing light. There is no denying that in my life I have stood on the edge of the cavern of my heart, knowing exactly what lie in wait. Fearfully staring into the darkness, denying that I needed to go in and look around.
Enter Jesus. As I began to recognize the problem (and simply because Jesus stood at the door and knocked), in my mind's eye I opened the door. I beheld His awesome glory and heard these words, "You have to tell." Those words were spoken into my soul with the same gentleness and simplicity that you read them on this page. Words, that when completely scrutinized meant simply, "You have to tell everything." My immediate response was, "No!" In fact, the overwhelming nature of my understanding that I needed to tell everything almost consumed me. I screamed, "No!" I wailed. I railed and thrashed and cried out, "No!"
The same gentle answer, filled with love and kindness and concern, came again and again. I tried to justify why I couldn't tell. I attempted to barter with the voice. I cried out in complete anguish and despair. And then a miraculous thing happened. I accepted the fact that I had to tell all. I felt His peaceful presence wash through me and knew that I was going to tell everything. I didn't have a clue how, or to whom, but I knew it would happen by His grace and mercy.
He presented me with the most important tool I would need. Prayer. (Proverbs 3:5-6) "Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, And don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, And he will make your paths straight." I trusted in Him and prayed and cried and put the next tools in front of myself, pen and spiral notebook. I also made sure I had a box of tissues handy. I needed them.
I needed one more very important tool, the telephone. There were times when the telephone was my lifeline, the safety tether that held me fast and kept me from falling into the never-ending blackness. As I began to write my sins down, confessing them on paper for the first time, the last tool was revealed. The pain of my shame and guilt was pressing so hard upon me that I desired to simply die. I thought that if I could just die, the pain would end. In my despair, I realized that I had a choice, and I chose to make a commitment to God. In so many words, I said, "Lord, please deliver me from this pain and I commit myself not to do anything foolish, like attempt suicide." It was then that I knew who to call with that last tool. I called my mom. She answered and spoke truth into my heart at the most critical point in my life. The basic message was this, "You are not a bad person, you have just done some bad things." That was what I needed to hear, what we all need to know is that we are loved unconditionally, no matter what we have done.
When the words flowed out of the darkness from within the cavern of my soul, and onto the paper in front of me, God's precious light began to shine in places I had tried to hide for so long. The more I wrote on the paper, the brighter the light was shining within me. It wasn't long before I was feeling the rush of guilt-pain and loss-grief flooding out of the darkness in me. This is a very healing process, and yet it is not without consequence.
As I faced my fear and my past sins, I realized that I would need to confess these sins to someone. So, with the help of my precious bride, I sought out a Christian counselor. I scheduled an appointment for as soon as I could get one. I kept my appointment, even though I did NOT want to go there. I brought my written confessions because I instinctively knew that I needed to confess these things to someone, and ultimately to my precious bride. Oh, I so did not want to do that.
Making the initial contact was difficult, to say the least. As I reached out in my pain to my precious bride, she confirmed to me that it was OK to get some help and she suggested the counselor we had seen together six years earlier. I just want you to know that I was not thinking rationally and needed help to get to the next step. I made the call with a desperate heart. I knew I had to, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. I truly was at the breaking point, I was willing to die to be free from the pain.
Let's get back to the adventure of spelunking for a minute. It is important to go into this place with the help of another person. It is important to have the appropriate tools at the ready. It is important to secure yourself to something solid to prevent being lost in the darkness. It is critical to have the brightest light you can find to push away all darkness from within the cavern of your heart.
The other person needs to be prepared for your adventure, so I suggest a trained Christian counselor, or a pastor. This needs to be someone who can speak truth in love when you need it most, when you could be believing lies about what you are feeling. This should be someone who can guide you back onto the path when you are avoiding some pain, or possibly overlooking some important area of hurt that you need to recognize and forgive. This person needs to be ready to ask some hard questions, in love of course, to provoke deep thought, complete acceptance, honest confession, and sincere repentance. This person sounds like a saint, doesn't he or she? Could be...
You must have the right tools to enter the scary, blackness of your heart. Prayer first, asking for the Holy Spirit to guide and prepare you for the task. You’ll need pen and paper, because writing things down makes them real. When you have the words on paper, you can see and touch them, as well as read them to someone else. Yeah, I know that's the hardest part, but I know you can find someone who will hear your words, and still love you just the way you are. You’ll need a telephone, because you need a connection to someone who can be a voice on the other end. This person will be there to ecourage you and to remind you that all of this is oh, so real. You can do this without a telephone as long as you have someone you can visit with in person. Don't forget a box of tissues, not the wimpy, fall-apart kind, but the lotion filled, heavy duty ones. If you are honest, and I hope you will be, you will hurt tremendously. The pain will seem overwhelming at times, and an appropriate phone call or personal contact can help to put some sanity back into your reality.
In the beginning, you will enter into the darkness knowing only that you need to completely explore the cavern of your heart. As you begin to reveal the larger areas that would represent the major hurts you have experienced in your life, you can apply the light of the Holy Spirit to those areas and ask God for the light to remain there. With that light shining you can then explore in more detail, following where the revealed openings lead you. As you face the demons in the darkness, armed with the Truth and the Light of your Heavenly Father as your guide, you will, with strength and courage, fight back the darkness and completely reveal the truth.
During the process (which could take quite some time, so don't give up), as you reveal and illuminate some painful truths in the cavern of your heart, you will begin to experience the freedom and the joy of living in the light. (1 John 1:7) "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin." Remember to thank Jesus regularly for giving you this life, and seek to give him all of your sins. He asks us to walk in the light, and I believe this is where we start.
As you get further into the cavern, you may again experience the pressure of your old guilt and shame. When you find yourself in this situation use your phone, or go visit with someone to talk about it and seek fellowship in the light. Humble yourself to the point that you are beyond your fears, and honestly approach your fears and concerns with this trusted person/partner/friend. The light of Truth will begin to shine again, and you will be refreshed. Cry. Cry alone. Cry with your friend. Grieve the loss and the pain of things that have happened to you as well as things you have done to others. Growing up, I was told, "Boys don't cry." I know better now, because the lie is revealed and the truth shines brightly! Believe me, real men cry, weeping bitter tears of sorrow, and tears of joy!
You will reach a point where you believe that you have done enough. I will pause to caution you here. What I am suggesting is that you simply pause and wait for God. Ask Him to reveal anything else you have overlooked. In His time, according to His will, you will begin to see those areas he desires to shine the light of truth upon. As you call upon God, be ready for whatever His will reveals. I am sure you will know when this happens.
(Isaiah 40:31) "But those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint."
(Isaiah 41:10) "Don't you be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness." One of the most difficult barriers to overcome when dealing with the major issues in your life is fear. Remember that fear is a barrier to intimacy and can be overthrown or rejected for what it really is, a lie. Healthy fear will protect you from being hurt or killed, while unhealthy fear will cause you to shut down, causing unnecessary pain and anguish. (Joshua 1:9) "Haven't I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; don't be afraid, neither be dismayed: for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go."
As part of the process, you will discover things that you can bring out of the cavern. These things will be what you write about. Some of these things will be ugly and won't seem like items to collect, and yet as they are brought out and exposed to the reality outside of the hidden place in the cavern, they become treasures to our God. Think of it like this: You acknowledge, accept, confess, repent and give over the sin in your life, and the angels rejoice! (Luke 15:10) "Even so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting."
The act of bringing your sins into the light, and removing them from the cavern of your heart, exposes you to the scrutiny of the world, too. Knowing that there are consequences for our sins can keep us chained up in fear of being discovered or found out. Believe me, the stuff that you bring out and classify, categorize, confess, and put up on the shelf in God's care, will be forgotten after a time. I am sure that people you hurt will remember even if they have forgiven you, and yet Yahweh will wipe out the memory of these things. (Hebrews 8:12) "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more."
OK, lets say that you have walked through the process and have inventoried the majority of your sins and confessed them to another person, and you have prayed for one another. The James 5:16 promise is that you will be healed. The healing here is represented in your receiving forgiveness and freedom from your sins, as well as your sponsor/partner/friend to be free of the burden of your sin.
Just imagine the lights in your cavern are all on. There is a warm glow that is constantly burning in you. The freedom caused by unshackling your heart will be tremendous. Overwhelming. The complete joy of having your house swept clean and put in order will replace the old bitterness and resentment that used to reside in chains there. The result will be that your outward gaze will be filled with the Spirit of your Savior. The Holy Spirit is now dwelling where your sin used to be trapped. Your eyes will be filled with a new light. (Luke 11:34-36) "The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn't darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light."
This is a reminder to keep looking inward, to go spelunking regularly to capture any sin that wants to find its old home in your heart. Seek out and capture your thoughts. Confess your thoughts to one another, before they are acted upon and become sins, and pray for one another so you can stay healed! This process is the key to staying in the light.
Oh, how much more effective we can be to others if we are carrying the light burden of our Savior! (Matthew 11:28-30) "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Believe me... It is better to go in the cavern and shine the light around than to stand on the edge staring at the absence of light, complete darkness. Think of the beauty of a cavern with all of its purity revealed, untouched by external things. And then think about the junk we all have crammed in there, spoiling the purity, tainting the original beauty intended by our Creator.
Kind of makes you ready to get some tools, huh?
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