We just finished our winter 2019 Healing Path class and on the final night, we have a potluck and testimonies. Imagine that, getting up in front of forty people and sharing with them what God has been revealing over the last ten weeks. Not everyone signs up to share but we had a handful of courageous people overcome their fears and share with us about their experience. Because of confidentiality, I cannot share names with you but their willingness to be weak in front of their brothers and sisters in Christ was powerful! Heroic!
We see snapshots of this throughout the Scriptures and the verses that pop into my head are from Hebrews 11:32-34, And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful (valiant) in battle and routed foreign armies.
“Whose weakness was turned to strength” is what The Healing Path is all about. Because when people choose to not allow their shame or fear to keep them silent they become powerful through the word of their testimony and the enemy is routed. Oh, I wish you could’ve been there to experience the power that was loosed that night.
As you well know It takes courage to stand “naked and unashamed” before others to share one’s story. Fear is in evidence every time we run one of our Healing Path classes (some of it is healthy). For many of the participants, it is the first time they’ve ever been part of a group that is so transparent. So it takes a while for some of them to “jump into the deep end of the pool.” I totally understand and encourage my leaders to be gracious in their ministry to them.
As most of you are aware, fear and shame are old friends of mine that kept me imprisoned for years. Having been “cowardly” for many years to be transparent and to live out of my true self I allowed fear to keep me bound up and powerless. But as you know God can take the most fearful of people and make them heroes (think Gideon in the book of Judges).
I am reminded in Revelation 21:5-8 what becomes of the cowardly.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty, I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
This is one of those verses that slap’s me in the face when I read it. In verse 8 at the beginning of the list, we see “the cowardly and “the unbelieving” listed and it is a bit of a head scratcher compared to the rest of the list. Hopefully, it gives us pause to ask ourselves the question, “Have I been cowardly in my walk with God?”
I did a search on the word “cowardly” and “unbelieving” and one writer wrote “Literally “the unbelieving” recalls Jesus’ rebukes to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?” (Literally, “Why are you such cowards?”). “Do you still have no faith?” (Mk 4:40; compare Mt 8:26).
Another writer wrote about verse 8, “They are not humble enough to accept His authority in their lives.” Ouch! That is what fear does to us; it convinces us to remain hidden, disabled in our ability to confess or even acknowledge we need Jesus to heal us. Rather than trust in the goodness and mercy of God we trust in the many masks we choose to hide behind.
Where do we start to overcome our fear of man? I started by trying to listen to God while in a place of fear. Such a battle at first to hear His voice in the midst of the powerful voices of my childhood that was mostly negative. Listening was a learned process for me that took time. Many times I wanted to abandon the process when I ran into what seemed like a dead end. Here is where patience and persistence were valuable assets in the pursuit of my freedom from fear.
Learning to engage with God I discovered more of God’s heart for me and found the freedom I never thought possible. Christian writer and speaker John Paul Jackson reminds us “Anything you fear you empower and whatever we focus on we make room for in our hearts and minds.” Focused on fear I became blind to the life the Lord offered to me through the choosing of weakness and humility. I lived with a “survivalist mentality” trying to hide my bad parts from people and never really experiencing the life Jesus was offering me. I believed that if I shared with others what was really going on in my life “something bad was going to happen.”
I am reminded of what Eve says in Genesis 3:13, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Like Eve, the devil hitched a ride in my head for many years deceiving me to remain in the shadows. Weakness was avoided, power was not my experience and I remained in bondage to my past wounds and pain. It wasn’t until I chose weakness that my healing was realized. There is no other road but “going the way of the Cross” to die so He can bring His resurrection power to raise us up anew.
Let me close with this verse, Hebrews 11:34 in the New King James version says it well, “out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle…”
On that Monday night in The Healing Path, we saw people choose weakness and become strong, valiant in their battle against the lies, wounds and sin in their lives. They kicked a@#!