Integrity In Your Bones

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Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. –proverbs 10:9

Want to freak yourself out?  Next time you’re in a crowd, remind yourself that you are in a room full of skeletons.

It’s not something we tend to think of when we look at each other, but just a couple inches beneath each person’s surface lies a collection of bones.  Boo!  Here lies the object of infinite Halloween frights, and the symbol of all things unmentionably hidden.

One does not put one’s bones on display.  Not the ones inside our bodies, or the ones we’ve stuffed into our closets.  They’re private. These bones represent our collection of indiscretions, our taboo secrets, our hidden sins.

With all these skeletons in our closets (and inches beneath our skin), how could a single one of us walk with integrity?  Politicians throw that word around, but managing integrity is a rare feat.   It doesn’t seem like our elected officials have much integrity these days, although they are masters at appearing like it.

They’re not the only ones.  Many people today avoid the church because Christians seem so proficient at integrity — until greed, or abuse, or all manners of non Christ-like behaviors reveal us to be as “boney” as everybody else.

The #MeToo movement is a perfect example of the state of integrity — pulling back the curtain on decades of hidden harassment and demeaning behavior.  I’ve surely hated to see the pitiful contents of some of my favorite public figure’s closets. I’m cautious at pointing a finger, however, because I’d just as soon no one ever peek in my closet.

How about you? Anything to hide?

So, shy of, say, the Dalai Lama, is there anyone with integrity left in this cursed world? Are we all doomed, as proverbs mentions, to walk crooked paths until the day God and humanity discovers what lies beneath each of our feeble attempts to appear good?

No.  We’re not doomed.  Jesus came to save us from the evil that has settled into our very bones.  When Jesus died on that cross, the earthquake that filled the land cleaned out every closet and gave us the ability to walk with our heads held high.  Not with some mock piety, but with the assurance of grace.  We’re not perfect.  Just forgiven.

I wonder if integrity can grow even through our attempt to find it.  Maybe so.  Instead of hiding away the frail remnants of our past, our bones can be made strong in Christ. Stronger than a tanker truck of milk ever could.

The next time you’re in a crowd, don’t freak out about all the skeletons surrounding you.  It’s part of human nature to carry a few sins with us as we go through life.

But strive (with God’s help) for integrity.  It comes when we make room for grace, in our bodies, minds, spirits..

and closets.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Calling Off The Search

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Today, almost three years after it went missing, investigators have called off the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Here’s what a joint statement from the three governments conducting the search had to say:

“Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modeling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,”  –http://www.cnn.com

There may come a day when someone finds the wreckage of that plane, out there in the ocean, but that’s little solace for the loved ones still wondering what happened.

It reminds me of other difficult searches people undergo.  Most notably, the search for God.

There may be circumstantial evidence–like debris washed up on the shore–but pinning down definitive proof of God continues to elude us.

In cities and villages, on college campuses and even in our local churches, there are many who have been searching, searching to no avail.

And so, many have called off the search.  If there is a God, the proof remains murky, down in the depths where it cannot be found.

There’s a problem with giving up the search for God, and it this:

It presupposes that God is the One who is lost or hiding.

And that’s not true.

God is not lost.  We are lost.

God is, in fact, searching desperately for us.  Longing to bridge the gap between God’s powerful Grace and our stubborn hearts.

God is near.  Close as our next breath. Obscured from view by sin and fear and doubt and anger and shame and even the coldness of our logic.

People are like Malaysia Airlines flight 370.  Lost, hidden, damaged. Desperate to be rescued but broken and silent.

Ah, but unlike that aircraft, we have a locator beacon that works, if we choose to use it.

It’s called faith.

Faith is a steady, spiritual “ping” that cuts through the layers of murk that separate us from God. Faith signals our desire to be found. Delivered.

For some, it may take years to tune that beacon in to the frequency of God’s Grace.

I know this because I once was lost, but now am found.

I know this because faith is a spiritual muscle that must be strengthened and developed.

I know this because millions and millions have been pulled from the oceans of chaos by our powerful Rescuer.

God will never call off the search.

Nor should we. Keep looking. Keep pinging.

It may not happen today.  It may not happen tomorrow.  But it will happen.

A light in the depths will surround you.

And you will know.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Over Exposed

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Ephesians 5:13 says “Everything exposed to the light becomes visible.”

Why does that scare me?

Recently I was on vacation down in Orlando, out swimming in the pool, when it started pouring rain. That part was kind of cool, but when it began lightning, I decided I’d better head inside.

We were running, and it was raining, and I didn’t even have a towel, and suddenly I was in the main hotel lobby. Dripping wet, just pale ole’ overweight me in my swimsuit.

With everyone else, fully dressed, staring at me.

I swear I’ve had nightmares similar to that.  Although in those I don’t think I was even wearing a swimsuit. 😉

No, it’s not like I was streaking or anything, but I still felt vulnerable. Over exposed, if you will.  I was happy to get back in clothes again.

I’ve decided I’m more of a stayed-covered-up kind of guy.

Still, that scripture makes me wonder:  What if we couldn’t cover up at all? What if we couldn’t hide that nasty scar or that ridiculous tattoo? Or stretch marks, or bruises, or…

What if we couldn’t cover up anything?

What if the stranger passing you on the street knew everything about you?  Your bank account? Your sexual history? Your arrest record? Your fear of clowns?

Can you imagine?

I claim to not like secrets, but I sure hold close the ones that I choose to keep. What about you? Is there part of you that you like to play close to the vest? (That is, if you’re lucky enough to be wearing one.)

And is this the cost of true discipleship?  Either you stay outside the Kingdom of God and risk getting struck by lightning, or come into the fold where everyone can see all your imperfections?

Wow, what a choice!

No.  I don’t think Christianity was designed to leave us feeling over exposed, but rather to help us shake free from the need to hide.  There’s a big difference.

The writer of Ephesians equates standing in the light as living in the presence of God. That doesn’t mean swimming for your life, and it doesn’t mean living in the harsh light of the world, either.

It means basking in the glow of your Creator, living faithfully, just as you are.

Next time I’m in Orlando?

I’m working on my tan.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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