05 August 2012

I Have a Secret (I'm a _______.)

Nicknames.  We have all had a nickname at one time or another throughout our lives.  If you've never had a nickname, chances are you probably named a few of your friends or co-workers in your life.  Nicknames, whether good or bad, are always associated with something we've done, said, or someone's perception of a physical attribute. For example; for those who state the obvious, we call them "Captain Obvious."  If someone is clumsy, we call them "Grace."  If you did something that is considered dumb you might hear  "Einstein" echoed in the background.

When I was growing up, a good friend of mine, Brian, had red hair and freckles. He earned the standard nickname "Red."  At first Brian didn't like it, but as time went on he became used to it and didn't seem to mind when we called him that.  As we grew, we introduced him as, "This is Brian, but we call him Red" until we eventually introduced him to anyone new as just "Red".

I ran into Brian a couple of years ago for the first time in several years.   I remember shaking his hand and saying, "It's good to see you Brian, how have you been?" We spent a few moments getting caught up on life, families, and jobs.

As I reflected on that chance meeting, I smiled at how Brian had  become "Red" and, through time, simply was Brian again.  It seemed completely natural, however, as I went over it in my mind.  It was as if the nickname "Red" was something he simply outgrew.

2 Sam 12:22-23
While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.  But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.

This was David's response observed by those around him after his child with Bathsheeba died.  He mourned, cried, fasted, and prayed until the child died.  David understood that there was nothing he could do to change the past, so didn't see the reason to continue to act that way.

Through living our daily lives and making mistakes along the way, we may end up with a few new nicknames.  There is difference, though, between the nicknames we receive as adults and the ones we were given as kids:  adults seem to hold on to these identifying names and seldom let go.  If you drink excessively, you're an "alcoholic," if you have an affair, you're a "cheater," if caught lying you're a "liar," and the list goes on.

As I talk to men, church leaders, and co-workers, what I've discovered is that many carry those identifying names around with them like shameful scarlet letters. Where does this shame come from? How did we get here?  It's a game your spiritual enemy Satan loves to play.

There is no greater tool that your enemy can use against you than "Discouragement."  If he can discourage you from doing something good by bringing up a shameful experience from your past, he will. Through repeatedly doing this to us, we begin to associate the sin with who we are and allow ourselves to be identified by that sin.

Because of something that happened, whether it was something we said, did, or others said or did against us, we feel this deep sense of separation from God or even separation from others which can lead to a very, very real sense of desperation:  “I’ll never get over this.  My life will never be the way it could have been or should have been.."

How do we break free from this prison of torment?

2 Cor 10:3-4
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

We have the power to demolish strongholds, to break out of the bondage of deception and the wrong beliefs.

2 Cor 10:5
We demolish these arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.  We take captive every thought and we make it obedient to Christ.

In following this scripture, we are not to believe the lies of the evil one.  The evil one wants us to believe we are what we did, or what someone did to us, or what we are...and we cannot change!  The truth is, you are not what you did.  You are not what someone did to you.  We are who God says we are, we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. (Psalm 139:14)

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