I’m fascinated by flying. Ever since I watched those tiny little planes flying so high above my rural Vermont backyard as a child, I’ve wanted in. What did they see from up there? Could they see me all the way down on the ground, waving my arms to say “Hi!”?
My first flight (that I remember) was on a trip to Peru during my sophomore year of college. I remember wanting to use all of my film taking pictures of the Andes mountains from the window of the plane – I couldn’t believe how small those huge, snow-covered peaks looked from above!
Over the past few weeks in our high school youth group, we’ve been focusing on “Truth” – specifically the truth about ourselves. Because the truth is that we all have truth that we are hiding or denying because it’s too scary to admit or confess. The series was inspired by the lyrics of a song called “If We’re Honest”, which says:
“Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide”
As adults, we know that this isn’t just true of young people, it’s also true of us – we’ve just had more time to build up the walls and perfect the disguise. Our sin has been forgiven because of Christ’s death and resurrection, but that doesn’t mean we don’t struggle daily to break the patterns of sin in our lives. And the truth about these struggles, especially if we’ve been doing the ‘Christian thing’ for most of our lives (and think we should have it figured out by now), can be hard to accept and even harder to share with others.
This is mostly due to a perspective problem. For some of us, we’ve blown our sin struggles up to be bigger than they actually are. We stay in the dark because the “dark seems safer” than the rejection and condemnation we are sure the light will bring. And for the rest of us, we’ve gone the other direction and shrunk them. We minimize our sin by convincing ourselves it’s not really that bad – and by believing the lie that if we pretend it’s not there, it will eventually just go away.
But as the song goes on to say:
“It may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do
Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest”
This song echoes the truth found in James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Truth is scary, but fully admitting it to God and others may be the only way we can experience genuine forgiveness and healing.
On the final night of this youth group series, we gave students the opportunity to be honest – to bring their brokenness into the light by writing it down or sharing it with the group. It was a powerful experience and, as always, we were so impressed at the willingness of this next generation to put themselves out there and be vulnerable and real!
By the end of our time that night, after hearing the testimonies and reading the confessions of so many students, I just wanted to pick them all up and give them a big hug. I wanted to say, “If you could only see what I see! If you could see what God sees when He looks at you!” Because a change in perspective could change everything.
As much as our view of our sin is warped, so is our view of our value. From down here on the ground, our perspective is so limited – all we’ve ever known is the view from inside our own head and sometimes we feel like we’re waving up to God saying, “Hey! Can you even see me down here?”. In a world of billions, it’s easy to hide – and easy to hide our sin because we feel like we’re so small it doesn’t really matter.
But the honest truth is that we’re more valuable than we could ever know. Yes, we struggle with sin and God sees every detail of it in zoomed-in HD-billion-megapixel clarity. But from His perspective, the mountains of our sin don’t look anything like the frightening, seemingly unconquerable peaks we see. From His perspective, we have no reason to hide because He gave His Son to pay for it and sent His Holy Spirit to transform us – not just to get us out of the punishment of hell or free us from a life of guilt, but because He has a much bigger purpose in mind!
Whenever I fly, I pick a window seat and then stare out the window the whole flight. I love trying to figure out where we are, because everything looks so different from above. On our most recent flight, Tim and I were following along the flight path on our smartphone maps and we couldn’t get over how close things that should have been far away seemed from 30,000 feet in the air!
The answer to our hidden sin struggles is a change in perspective. The answer is to move out of the backyard, jump on a plane, and start seeing His viewpoint.
When we acknowledge the true depth of our sin, we have the ability to call it what it is – and believe it or not, it immediately becomes a whole lot less scary. When we confess it to each other, we give God the opportunity to use others to show us the mercy that seems so far away, but is actually just “waiting on the other side”. When we come out of hiding, we are set free to start living the bigger purpose and “bigger picture” life that God has for us.
We may be small, but we are invaluable to the work God is doing in this world. There are so many people out there who need our love, so many people whose lives could be forever changed by our simple acts of selflessness, so many people who would benefit from us living out, unhindered, the good works God has planned for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
I know for me it’s been tempting to stay in the backyard, stay hiding, and try to figure it out myself. But all that results in is me flapping my own arms, complaining and asking God why it’s not working! He’s given me a much better option, I just have to be willing to trust that He knows what He’s talking about.
Do you have another follower of Christ in your life who you can be honest with? Are you being completely honest with yourself? Whatever it is – you can’t surprise God – and it’s likely that you won’t surprise anyone else either. Instead of condemnation or rejection, it’s more likely you’ll hear these words: “If you could only see what I see! If you could see what God sees when He looks at you!” Whatever your addiction, thought pattern, controlling desire, or other sin struggle is – mercy, healing, and incredible purpose are waiting on the other side.
*”If We’re Honest”, Francesca Battistelli, 2014