David…mighty warrior, King of Israel, musician…I’ve always admired David’s intimate knowledge of and relationship with the Father. His transparency in the Psalms gives us a rare look into the heart of a man as he admits his faults and acknowledges his needs. We watch his rise, his fall, his restoration and we relate to his struggle. Psalms isn’t a telling of mighty deeds done during an impressive reign, but rather mighty things done in the heart of man. It isn’t boasting of man’s accomplishments but God’s goodness, God’s strength, God’s plan revealed in every day circumstances.
Most of us prefer torture to transparency. We don’t want others to see our faults, our struggles. We are afraid that someone may see that we really don’t have it “all together.” What if the other mom’s find out that I’m not always calm and diligent with my children? What if they learn I struggle with laziness? What if they discover my secret sin? We work really hard to build an image for ourselves that can’t and shouldn’t be maintained.
Think about it. As believers we are called to be light. How much light filters through an opaque window. None. Zip. Zero. Yet, often I find myself trying to board up areas of my life to keep others out and my life private. How will others know the victories I have in Christ, if they never see my struggles? How can I tell others about the great work He is doing in my life if all I’m willing to show them is what I believe to be my strengths?
This is not a call to complain about every small problem in my life, but rather to live my life in front of others. A reminder to myself to let others see my weaknesses and His strengthening me through them.
David often cried out to God, acknowledging his sinful wandering heart. “My wounds grow foul and fester. Because of my folly, I am bent over and greatly bowed down.” (Ps.38) Later, in the same Psalm he says, “I hope in Thee, O Lord; Thou wilt answer, O Lord my God.” Admitting defeat, acknowledging oppression/depression isn’t the issue. David accepts the responsibility that his sin has placed him in despair. He doesn’t blame his past, his current circumstances, his enemy, but in his words, “I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.” Many of these Psalms were sent to the court to be sung publicly. The great king of Israel humbling himself and publicly confessing his need of a Savior. Talk about transparent.
I used to think being a light, being an example meant I was to be a symbol of perfection that others could look to for encouragement and guidance. Paul challenges Timothy, “…in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” And then there’s that little verse in Matthew, “you are to be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
Light? Yes. Example? Yes. Perfection? No. I struggled. I couldn’t grasp perfection much less hold on to it. I felt like a failure to myself, to others, and to God. In my attempt to gain and display perfection, I sank into despair. I began to search, to call out to God for direction. He called me to be a light, to be an example, to be perfect, but I wasn’t measuring up. In those desperate seeking moments, God spoke. He showed me my heart of pride. I wanted others to look at me, when I should have been pointing them to Christ. He is perfect. I was failing because I was trying to do it all in my own strength, by my own abilities. It’s never a good idea to pursue godliness with mere human effort.
Yes, I am called to be a light. I am called to be an example. And, I am called to be perfect. But, I am not called to accomplish any of this on my own. I am called to walk in His strength. I am called to run after all of these knowing when I fail in this human state there is grace, mercy, and forgiveness waiting. If you have any doubt, read Nehemiah 9. My Father is “a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness.”
The light and example He has called me to be isn’t one of perfection but of one working towards perfection. Letting others see the real me isn’t nearly as important as letting others see Him at work in the real me. When I fall, and I will, He will pick me up, dust me off, and set me back on the right path again when I earnestly seek Him with all my heart. That is the example I want others to see.