I remember standing behind the lectern, laser pointer in hand. Teaching, leading, I imparted knowledge and inspired action. But to be honest, I was no expert. I just learned how to study and how to relay the finer points.
Hundreds of times I looked at eager eyes from the chairs pulled into a circle. Opening the book, pointing out history and theology and imagery, everyone said how great it was. I really didn’t know anything more than anyone else.
A long time ago I took a position behind the pulpit, preaching God’s word with eloquence and wisdom. But I didn’t always believe what I spoke. I mouthed the words but didn’t always allow them to seep into my heart. My river was wide, but very shallow.
Eventually the truth caught up. I led marriage enrichment classes and then let mine slip away. I talked to men about purity and let the sewage seep into my own life. I taught about families and then mine ended up in chaos.
I had lived the life of the hypocrite.
The eyes of the approving flock that once gleamed with anticipation because my delivery was smooth and my words were well-formed now turned away. The pretender is fine as long you don’t show your true colors. Just keep with the sweet talk, the ear tickling and they’ll look the other way.
I received so much approval, but what I really need was honesty.
After a fall from grace, you don’t have much. Your acquaintances are long gone. And your friends are a little tired of your story. All you really have is a Savior that just won’t leave. “Just you an me, kid” he says with a smile. “It will get better.”
And it has. It’s been a long road back. But these days I’m sticking to transparency and simplicity. Those red letters give me new life.
“Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Why did I complicate it so?
I don’t know
One of the most freeing results of this fall is the realization that I just don’t have all the answers. I used to believe that there was no question that couldn’t be tamed through enough Bible study or revealed in a sermon or teaching. But these days, I’m fine with no answer. I’m comfortable with the mystery.
I don’t know what to do . . . and that just is so humbling. The most liberating thing I can ever say is “I don’t know.”
Asking for help is an exercise that cuts to the core of my pride. It means that my knowledge is deficient, my experience inadequate or my basis lacking.
I have filing cabinets full of folders, shelves lined with books and hard drives full of notes and that might impress you. But the know-it-all I once was is back to lying on my chest, inching toward the clear water, dipping my lips and drinking, just like it was the first time.
And for this place, I give thanks.