Monday, November 2, 2015
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Oh sure, Mom and Dad thought it was just another excuse to stay awake longer. Adults don't believe what kids know to be the awful truth - that there are monsters in your closet at night. And they expect you to close your eyes and just start having sweet dreams? Come on!
Actually, I really had nothing to fear from those monsters that lived in my overactive imagination. But then there are real monsters that a lot of us have locked in a closet somewhere in our heart: the secret pain, the secret sin, the secret darkness of that unforgiving heart. They're like vampires. They live in the darkness. But they start to lose their power when you drag them into the light.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Facing Monsters."
I see that happen every summer in the lives of some of the amazing, young Native Americans that I travel with to Indian reservations. I say "amazing" because they bring visible hope to some of the most violent, most suicide-wracked reservations in America. I've been an eye-witness to that. They are fearless and relentless in telling their Hope Stories to anybody who will listen; stories of how a brown-skinned Savior named Jesus rescued them from a hopelessness that nearly destroyed them. I always feel like I'm seeing the love and power of God Almighty unleashed on those dusty reservation basketball courts - holy ground all of a sudden.
But I know the story behind the story. I know where all that power comes from. See, many of those youth that I've traveled with have faced the monster in their closet. They've dragged it into the light and they've turned it over to Jesus.
Like Cindy for example. Often abandoned, often physically abused by a drunken mother, never knowing her father. Then horribly betrayed by her mother's boyfriend. She trusted him so much, and he sexually violated her. The final chapter in a story that told her a cruel lie, "Cindy, you're worthless." A story line that brought her to the brink of suicide. She had a gun to her head literally.
Thank God, Cindy was rescued by Jesus. But there was a monster in her closet; bitterness, anger, maybe even hatred that she harbored in her heart. Understandably. But unforgiveness never hurts the person we refuse to forgive. But it eats us alive and, strangely, it ties us to the very person we can't stand.
The Native young people I've been with have been sinned against, and often they've responded with sin at levels most of us could not imagine. And, like so many of us, they stuff it in the closet. There it grows into a monster of ungrieved grief, unrepented sin, and unforgiven hurt; a monster that morphs into all kinds of anger, rage, depression and self-loathing.
I remember one night when I talked with our team about the Bible's revelation in our Word for today from the Word of God, 1 John 1:5-7. It says, "God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and we do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another (In other words it heals our broken relationships with each other.) and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." That's healing our broken relationship with God.
That night many of those young warriors made a profound choice. They verbally declared, "Jesus, I forgive (and there was a name)_____________." A decision to treat a person who's sinned against you, not as they treated you, but as Jesus treated you; forgiving someone who does not deserve it. One of those "forgivers" was Cindy. It was for her - and for many others - the night they went free. After that, she exploded into an amazing spiritual rescuer, and she's left a trail of changed lives. Dealing with the darkness detonated the power of God in her.
It did that with Eric when he chose to burn those photos, the music, and even the clothes that kept pulling him back to his "old me". The pain of your past - the sin of your past - loses its power when you drag it into the light. The steps are 1) You've got to face it, 2) You've got to forsake it, and 3) You've got to forgive it.
It all begins when you understand how very much Jesus loves and forgives you. And you get from the Great Forgiver the ability to go free. The Bible says, "If the Son of God makes you free, you are free indeed." He wants to set you free from all the sin of your life, and then you are set free to be the forgiver who becomes a healer in people's lives.
If you've never begun a relationship with Him, let me just suggest you text us at 442-244-WORD to begin a relationship with Him. See, Jesus doesn't hang out in the dark. He's in the light, waiting to stand by your side to confront that monster and shatter your chains.