Have you ever noticed how good many people are at masking crisis, trauma, fear, anxiety and “where is this thing called life going?” No matter how we might present ourselves, often, very often, buried just below the surface is an overwhelming sense that something isn’t quite right or outright wrong. We become uncomfortable when someone puts us on the spot, we purpose to play things safe especially when something arises that we just don’t understand, we talk about “those things” that tend to make us look really good, we offer the illusion that we are more spiritual than we really are, we avoid people and topics that tend to place us in uncomfortable surroundings and potentially bring unwanted and difficult emotions to the surface.
Scratch just below the surface and it only takes a split second to realize that regardless of just how much we have changed, we still have a very long way to go. Each and every one of us know things about ourselves that no one would ever guess happened or is presently going on. Things we have done behind closed doors, fantasies, considerations, thoughts, secrets that only God Himself knows. The sometimes overwhelming reality that something is wrong can be utterly consuming.
Oh, we are most definitely purposed to be and do better. However, the “one step forward and two steps back” seems to surface all too often. Tragically, the scenario brings huge amounts of shame, a desire to withdraw and isolate, to hide. We simply do not want to run the risk of being rejected one more time.
How well I remember when I was a little guy, my stepfather taking me to a horror flick that so frightened me and impacted my life, I became convinced the boogie-man had moved into our house and had set up residence directly under my bed. Admittedly, my fears were unfounded but they were also genuine. There was no boogie-man but there was definitely something wrong. Unlike the boogie-man, life’s problems are real.
When the world comes crashing through and reality hits we are often inclined to do whatever is necessary to regain a sense of well-being. Eat something sweet, join the church choir, read a book, surrender our life (again) to God – anything to relieve that nagging sense that something isn’t quite right.
Isn’t it amazing how we can become so fixed and persuaded that if everything is looking good on the outside then the same must be true of what is going on within? God intends on each and every one of us doing much more than just spray washing the exterior. He takes us deep within to the nooks, crannies, and fathomless craters of our soul to experience His presence when we feel most alone and void of hope. Indeed, the backside of the desert is often where God perfects His promises and enables us to face reality as it truly is which includes our hurts, fears, resentments and address certain motives that we often keep hidden so that we can emerge as changed people. Certainly, not perfect, but more able to deeply and genuinely love other people as well as ourselves because we are more aware of His love.
Yes, life is trying, demanding, at times overwhelming, relationships too difficult, and responsibilities too difficult for any of us to do what is expected of us and deny that we have problems and troubles. While I am a bit cautious of constant personal introspection, some understanding of what is happening and going on inside will often help us to see what changes need to occur on the inside in order to effectively and genuinely impact external changes.
Personally, I have found that my truly knowing God often occurs most when the winds of adversity are blowing and reality is confusing. Not being willing to weather the storms of life and ask myself the hard questions and face the hard issues all but dismisses intimate, wonderful transforming encounters with God.
Ultimately, it is that which lies just beneath the surface and the sense that something isn’t quite right becomes yet another opportunity for me and the Holy Spirit to deal honestly with “the stuff” and develop faith, hope, love and an awareness that I need to develop a trusting awareness of Christ Jesus more than ever.
Yes, this journey called ‘life’ is often marked by numerous twists and turns and while just below the surface may be a sense that I have much more surrendering, relinquishing, and obeying to accomplish, deeper yet is the awareness, knowing and comfort that God will never keep His distance from me.
I know what it is to catch a glimpse of the reality of God that often overwhelms me with His goodness, His majesty, His love. It is during those times that I become acutely aware that I am deeply, purely and profoundly loved by God the Father.
That knowing – runs much, much deeper than just below the surface.
“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
Pastor Phillip Lee
His Way Out Ministries
Member of Restored Hope Network