The invitation to a secret life

“I’m not going to tell you about that.”

This is my three-year-old’s son’s new favorite answer to our questions about his day.

How was preschool?

Good.  

Did you have snack?

Yes.

What did you eat for  snack?

I’m not going to tell you about that.

Did you sing songs at preschool?

Yes.

What songs  did you sing?

I’m  not going to tell you about that.

Now, I am a complete Mom-Professional  when it comes to asking my kids about their day.  I’m no novice here.  I don’t just ask, “How was your day” and then give up when he answers, “Fine.”

I  know better than that.

My modus operandi with all my kids has been to ask very specific questions.  Hence, my questions about snack and songs.  I’ll ask who was the line leader and whether they used the slide or swings on the playground.

This has worked with all three of my daughters.  But my son has found the ultimate weapon against  Mom’s post-school interrogation:

“I’m not going to tell you about that.”

Now what’s a mom to do?

I’ve chosen not to fret over this quirky and unique stage. He tosses his little go-to non-answer at one of my questions with an impish grin.  He enjoys his conversational “checkmate” and giggles a bit.

At some point, we’ll probably move along.  Maybe we’ll even get to know what he ate for snack and what songs he sang with his classmates.

In the meantime, I relish every detail he will share with me, every snuggle when he’s decked out in his Batman pajamas before bed, every whispered, “I love you.”

These are the hidden times, what we share with our family, what we share with each other, but not what we open up to the big wide world.

Jesus had these moments, too.  He’d slip away for hidden times with God, praying all night on a mountain while his followers remained behind (Luke 6:12).

This was the ultimate quiet time.  It was private, hidden, a secret between him and God.

And maybe God invites us in to share some of these intensely personal, hidden moments with him also, just as he did for the disciples when he asked them to “come away with me to a quiet place…..” (Mark 6:31).

In fact, Jesus specifically instructs us to:

  • Give in secret: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4) 
  • Pray in secret:    “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”  (Matthew 6:6)
  • Fast in secret:  “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”  (Matthew 6:17). 

It doesn’t mean all gifts must be anonymous and all prayers offered from our prayer closet.

It does mean our faith shouldn’t be religious show—all on public display for our own glory.

It does mean that there should be a secret aspect to our faith—a just between Him and me kind of intimacy.

In  her book, A Beautiful Offering, Angela Thomas writes:

“God wants to meet  with me in secret…There are  a couple of things that really matter to Jesus in this passage.  One is the real intention of our  hearts before God, and the other is that we learn to  practice a secret life with Him”

Our “secret life”is more than giving, fasting, and praying.

It’s sitting quietly with God.

It’s tucking lessons away and pondering them in our hearts

It’s offering Him the parts of our heart that we so often hold back. It’s being honest with Him.

I don’t ask my son questions about his day because I want to pester or annoy him.  I ask because I love him and he’s still young enough for me to be all-up in what happens in his little preschool life.  (I’ll enjoy that while  it lasts!).

Jesus  also invites us into secret communion with him, not to judge us or correct us, not to redirect us or lecture us.

He invites us because He loves us.

In response, we can either toss out a hurried, “I’m not going to tell you that.”

Or we can pour out hearts to Him.  We can linger by His side.  We can laugh together at a joke. We can celebrate a victory.

 

 

 

Secret Sins

“You have set our iniquities before you; our secret sins in the light of your presence”
(Psalm 90:8).

If you’re ever a guest in my home, there’s one important bit of information you need to know—-don’t look in any of my closets.  For the first five years we were married, we moved five times.  That meant I was forced into drastic organizing and purging every year.  After three years in our current home with two children under two, though, I started feeling overwhelmed by disorganization.  I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.  Then, I realized–not moving plus young children plus me working more and more hours equaled messy closets.  It was simple math.

My home is never spotless now, but it does have its moments of looking generally clean, usually after the girls have gone to bed or before they wake up in the morning.  Still, no matter how clean it looks to a visitor, behind the closet doors lurks mess.

I’m essentially no different.  Generally, I’m pretty “clean” looking.  To most people, it probably looks as if I have my life in order and, by God’s tremendous grace, I’m not struggling with the big, public, noticeable sins.

It’s in the hidden closets of my heart that you can find the sins, all jumbled together and in disorder from lack of purging.   These are the deep down sins like jealousy, pride, anger, coveting,  impatience, and impure motives.  They are the things that I really haven’t needed to clean out before.  I thought that as long as they were truly private–just between God and me—I didn’t need to deal with them.  I could just pretend they didn’t exist and act as if my heart was as clean as the exterior of me looked.

In her book, Me, Myself and Lies, Jennifer Rothschild says, “I slip into cleaning the outside of my cup and neglecting the inside.”  She’s comparing herself to a Pharisee.  It’s a comparison that most of us wouldn’t generally be honest enough to make.

Yet, Jesus said:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Sometimes I want God just to shove my sins into closets rather than allowing Him to do the deep cleaning and purging necessary in my life.  This deprives me of true freedom, of authenticity, of pureness of heart, and of greater intimacy with Him.  It makes me an unusable cup and a whitewashed tomb, no better than a Pharisee.

God desires more than a superficial relationship with us, though, so He’s constantly using circumstances and other people to bring these secret sins to the surface so that He can cleanse us completely.

King David told his son Solomon that “the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9).   In his Psalm, Moses wrote, “You have set our iniquities before you; our secret sins in the light of your presence” (Psalm 90:8).  God always knows our motivations and the condition of our heart.

Sometimes I’m embarrassed and ashamed to come before Him because He knows the ugliest parts of my soul. That’s one of the amazing things about God, though—-He sees us fully and loves us completely.  Chris Tomlin sings about this in Indescribable: “You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same.” To me, that’s just as miraculous as His creation of the universe.

This process of cleaning out the hidden places of our heart is painful and hard at times.  It means being vulnerable enough to let God bring sin to the surface.  It involves confession and repentance, and not allowing those thoughts and motives to find their way back in again.  It requires us to put aside the facade of perfection and deal with the fact that we’re sinners.

Still, the pain serves a purpose.  Job 5:18 says, “He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal.” God doesn’t leave us hurting and injured. It’s only when we allow Him to clean out the source of infection–our deep sins—that our broken hearts can heal.  It’s only when He has purged our secret sins that we are free.  As Jennifer Rothschild writes: “Oh the freedom authenticity brings!”

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King