Monday, March 17, 2008


Continuing with a few posts on some one-liners from The Shack...

On page 24 the quote that starts the chapter is, "Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets." by Paul Tournier

I remember a similar quote from John Powell, "We are as sick as we are secret." If I remember correctly, that's a quote from his book, Happiness Is an Inside Job.

Powell's quote is one of those one-liners that grabbed me a few years ago, and it's one of those I remember. It has served me well. Does this mean that I never keep anything to myself? I don't think so. Have you ever known someone who tells you absolutely everything, and you're pretty sure you didn't want to know about three-fourths of the info. I love the text-messaging abbreviation for too much information, TMI.

I think what's being referred to here are the secrets we keep so that others will think well of us, or so that our loved ones will continue to love us. 

Some secrets that are very unhealthy to keep are:
  • Relational abuses
  • Actions that require cover-up or lying
Families and churches are full of these kinds of secrets.

The other day we were visiting with friends and we were discussing a movie where the star did what was right by the letter of the law but his action seemed to be harmful to some innocents. It was a disturbing end. 

When I was asked what would I have done, I thought I would protect the innocents. But after some thought, I realized that I would have had to lie and have cover-up actions. With that incident I think there was a way to stay within the law and to follow-up to protect. There was a right way. That was a tough one. But it's a good example of what I'm speaking of here.

Of course, keeping relational abuse secrets is pretty obvious. This can sometimes be very hard, and it's in the secret keeping where the abuser gains power. 

For years it was considered a "sin" by Christian conservatives for believers to take an anti-depressant. (That's hard to believe now, but it's true.) I have taken several counseling courses and that's how I unraveled that wrong concept. But I still watch others struggle with this.

One time in the beauty shop I was waiting my turn and the nail technician asked the customer what she thought the difference in Methodists and Baptists was. She said that was easy to answer. Both Methodists and Baptists drink a little, but Baptists say they don't and Methodists admit they do. Isn't that an interesting outsider's observation? I thought it was pretty funny.

I'm not saying anything about anti-depressants or drinking. I'm just using them as examples of how sometimes we box ourselves in to having to keep secrets to "belong." Pretty sad state of affairs, isn't it?

Harmful secrets that are kept inside are like mushrooms in a cave. They thrive on the darkness. Often bringing our harmful secrets out of our cave into the light can bring healing. 

Lonely? Unhealthy?

Do you have secrets that need to be brought out of the cave and shared with discerning and loving friends (an appropriate audience)? 

It's a fun thought to know that God knows our hearts. We have no secrets from Him, and since He loves us and will never leave us, I do believe He'll help us empty our "caves" if needed.



greg.w.h said...


When you talk about caves, I'm reminded of the sense of separation that sin leads me to. I'm not comfortable with myself. I hide from God. And I certainly don't want to face others in the midst of my sin.

It reminds me of what Dr. Harry Hunt taught us about the warning of judgment for eating the fruit. The verb is second person ("you"). It's in the "hithpael" tense. The simpler "pael" tense is usually translated "surely", but there is no adverb. The verb...the action...subsumes the sense of certainty.

The "hithpael" tense is a special variant of pael that includes an element of reflexiveness. It's roughly equivalent to the "se" particle in some of the Latin languages. That is to say: the person is effectively acting on themselves or causing a consequence to come upon themselves.

Take the reflexiveness with the certainty, and the translation into English is something like "when you eat of the fruit of this tree, you shall bring upon yourself the consequence of certain death." Now realize in Hebrew it is a single particle that gets that across. And that it is repeated for emphasis. Powerful, powerful words.

Since Adam and Eve did not physically die when they ate of the fruit, we're left wondering for a moment as we read the text exactly how they experienced certain death. The first way was that they were ashamed of their nakedness. What once was innocent was now a source of shame. They now were separated from each other by what they realized the other MIGHT be thinking.

Then when God came looking for them, they were hidden. When God asked why they were hiding, the man lied: first to God and then to himself about why HE had sinned.

So we see the same progression in the very first sin that we see in today's sin: sin leads to guilt, to shame, to separation from own selves (our "true" selves in the sense of what God wants us to be), from each other, and from God.

I can speak so clearly about all of this because God so often directly confronts me. I glory in him because he hastens to chasten those that he loves. ("For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6) He promises not to abandon us in self-absorption in our caves, but to do everything to break through and rescue us.

I was listening to a new preacher that I ran across early this morning. He talked about how the thing that God Jesus Christ through the suffering on the cross--his incredible love for us--can be the same thing that gets us through the difficulty and suffering in our lives.

But I offer that it goes much deeper than that: when we're in our caves sulking, accused, confused, frustrated, and ashamed, that is when we can most count on these verses and depend on that amazing love:

"6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)

Greg Harvey

P.S. Sorry for the sermon...but it all kind of fit together neatly as I was writing it. I hope you don't mind!

Rebel4Reality said...

Love the "sermon." Great thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to write such rich, thought provoking comments.

I liked your thoughts about what we're doing in our "caves." I think that's so true. And also true is the fact that some people close and lock the door and never visit those rooms and keep them secret. They think that by locking it away and keeping it secret that makes it go away. I think our "secrets" leak out in our behavior, our responses, and our relationships because we can't be transparent when we're hiding.

Just some more thoughts. Not too many people I know are truly inside-out people. I really think that's our "gospel." We've been transformed by the power of Christ and therefore we can be open and real.

Thanks for your words. Appreciate your input.