I am amazed at the lengths that our adversary will go, to deplete our drive and ambition, darken our attitude… Dismantling our joy, distancing us from God and diminishing the reflection of His character in us – all to utterly destroy our soul. God doesn’t want that.
Being born to an unwed mother, an unwanted child or an “accident” of an extramarital affair and unprotected sex… an inconvenience that was handled by passing me off to an adoption agency… finally being placed with loving family – so egger, so anxious, but also too scared to know what they were doing.
When I was nine a trusted individual molested me, our family decided to bury the secret in hope that it would never be known… yet in its burial my hurt, my shame, my guilt was never addressed and always avoided. This burial technique became a pattern in my life, after all my birthmother “buried” her shame through adoption and sending me away… my adoptive parents “buried” my molestation by hiding it and never addressing my hurt publicly nor with medical professionals – totally healthy, right?
I had heard the gospel of Jesus during these mailable years, I wanted to know this man who would accept me as I was, who would take away my hurt, who would heal my broken heart. I could not believe – fathom that anyone could exist, in the past or present who could do these things – His word said He is willing – I could only imagine.
Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If you are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
– Mark 1:40-41
Many things in this world are unimaginable… We cannot wrap our minds around them no matter how much we want to, they are dismissed as unattainable, or we are unworthy to be considered to have them, because of our histories… Satan is a liar.
We take for granted the sun as passé because we understand what it is and the role it plays in our life… think about someone who has never experienced the sun… The sun itself is incomprehensible for someone who has never seen it, or watched it as our planet journeys in its orbit around it… the consistent rising in the east, setting in the west – so consistent in fact our lives are dictated by its cycle. It’s warmth and its contrasting and changing hues from daybreak to dusk and season to season.
I prose this query because just as the sun is incomprehensible to someone who has never seen it… God’s love, acceptance and assurance is incomprehensible to someone who have never known Him… I never knew Him. I never understood Him. I had only heard about Him and His love…
In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” an reading from Plato, ‘Republic’ (514a – 520a) “The effect of education and the lack of it on our nature.”
Plato begins a story by having the audience imagine a cave where people are imprisoned, from birth. These prisoners are chained so that they can only see one direction, both the way out and all sources of light, a bonfire and the sun were behind them – casting shadows only on the wall before them on the back of the cave wall. Condemned to see only what is before them they cannot see anything going on behind them. They can hear their captors conduct their day-to-day activities and they can see the shadows cast on the drab wall in front of them, but that is it. Satan wants us to hear only what he and our captors say and to see just what is before us, in the direction of our bondage – in a diminished or distorted way. He keeps us bound in his captivity, withholding from us the true light of freedom, that the light of Jesus Christ.
In this allegory one of the prisoners escapes his chains and makes it outside to see a bright vivid and vibrant world of color and of life… It is so overwhelming the prisoner, hurting their eyes, frightening them, making him extremely uncomfortable – now free from their captors, free from the chains that bound them… they still return to the mouth of the cave for a moment, just for security – or at least the only kind of security that they have ever known. Once their eyes are adjusted and they can see, they long to discover the joy of being free – as the brightness of this new world of life beyond their captivity settles in a bit, they explore more of what the new, the new life that lies before them…
Taking in the beauty, the novelty, the boldness of life, in comparison to the dank and dingy shadowy life, the half-life they had known before. How many times do we become free of a bondage, delivered from the darkness and doubt of the shadow world, only to be drawn back into it, little by little… After all it was the only world we knew – In this allegory, the prisoner’s whole lives were consumed by a false, shadow world – a world “less than” with no possibilities, no future.
Again, in the story, as the days pass, stricken by remorse for those friends that were left behind, back in the cave, our ex-prisoner returns to tell others of this wonderful new world, its novelty, its opportunities, the world of life… radiant, vivid and vibrant life.
The prisoners were shocked, as they had believed their friend dead – In the amazement of them returning, and upon hearing of this new-found life, one of freedom, the ability to move around unencumbered, and experience the sun – its warmth, its color – the flowers, the trees, the fish in the streams – all too much to comprehend.
The description of such a state of life, a life of “more than”, one of limitless liberty… unimaginable, unfathomable – those still in bondage felt that the ex-prisoner had lost their mind and or was a phantasm sent to confuse and torture them – they would not believe that the world of life and freedom existed, and they would never leave the security of the shadowy world they currently know, perpetually bound, for eternity.
Shadows in this life are real. Our adversary wants us to put on the mask of acceptance in a life “less than” – acceptance of an unconfronted captor – of a buried consequence. All because he knows that “time does not heal all wounds” – he knows that just as a pot of water on a fire, over time it will boil with rage and flow out like a poison erupting in steam and burning all around it… then when the water is all gone and the fire is burned down, a scorched, dry, and in many cases warped container is leftover.
As long as we wear this mask, the shadows of life are not clear, the lines between the world of life and death are combined – a mere expression of “looking into the mirror darkly” seeing a perverted world, a broken, tortured and tormented world – a place where you hear things around behind you, tormenting you… but you can see nothing clearly except what is in front of you… your hurt, your anger, your rage, your shame – all from “buried outcomes” from choices, some of which you had no control over but they shaped the shadows cast upon the cave wall before you – in your place of darkness and fear – of despair and doubt… isn’t time to simply walk out of the cave and stop living in the shadows of circumstance that others have cast for you – ask Jesus to free you and heal your broken heart… forgive and live a life of grace and mercy.
He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
I was a prisoner in the cave – buried circumstances shaped my life… Unchallenged hurts, unforgiven captors, unwitting participants all gladly became shadows of a “less than” life – just like those prisoners who remained, I rejected the new world of life – although I hungered for it, I desired it – unable to break free of the addiction, the bondage, the abuse, the shame, the guilt, the condemnation… I would rather stay in the comfort of their broken human condition versus the freedom of escape to this Incomprehensible, unbelievable free world of life – a life “more than” – an abundant life.
- Yes, it is uncomfortable when you first come out of the darkness.
- Yes, it is difficult to navigate the world of new opportunities.
- Yes, it can hurt, as you long for the comfort of the life you once knew, but no longer life.
But there was hope – wonderful hope – God is the one who sees us even when we cannot see for ourselves. He will help rescue you, He pursues you, He is unescapable… He will lead you from the chains of imprisonment deep in that dark cave of despair and doubt, shame and guilt, hurt and brokenness – if you only ask Him to, He is willing.
O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you have healed me. – Psalm 30:2
A final encouragement – once you know of this world of life – abundant life, there will always be a call back to the cave… there will be seasons of torment and storms that come, but Jesus is faithful – a friend that is closer than a brother, but a whisper away… As the tiny fishing boat, in the lake of Galilee, was being violently tossed on the waves and the storm building all around them – the disciples in fear as the boat was being swamped, cried out, Jesus calmed the storm and asked why did you worry, was I not here?
With an open heart, in an attitude of adoration, let us pray:
“Jesus examine us where we are… what buried circumstances do we need to uncover and bring into the light – Ask Him reveal to you who you are… ask Him to heal you, through and through. Exposing the shadows to the light, taking away the hate, the rage, the shame, the guilt, the uncertainty and the blame.
Tell Him you are willing – He will respond that He too is willing. Pursue Him, reach out to Him, beyond the shadows… Holding tight to His promises, never letting go – Take courage and step out of the problem and into promise of a life “more than” – an abundant life.”
As you meditate and focus on “the one who heals me” this week, consider that He is inescapable – He pursues you relentlessly.
- What shadowy mask is it that you will lay down today, not to pick up and wear again?
- Have you ever found yourself wanting to be free of something, but you did not know how to do it – list those things that diminish your walk with God – the shadows of a life “less than” that still hinder you.
- Read this scripture and imagine that those desires – good or bad that are diminishing your walk with God in an abundant life – imagine they are what is causing the waves on this troubled sea… Jesus is with you, resting in His peace, inviting you to do the same – no matter what is going on around you… let go of the shadows – trust in Him and rest in His peace – sharing the first moments of your new vibrant life… a life “more than” the shadows.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” – Mark 4:35-41