Being real…gives God the glory

Despite the obstacles we will face in our quest to be real, I would argue that it is worth it because it gives God the glory. After all, that is what we are really here for…lifting His name high, whether that is in song, or in the way we handle a difficult situation at work, or caring for small children, or reaching out to someone in your community who needs the friendship and encouragement.

To me, this is the good news that comes after the realization that this ‘being real’ thing is not always the most gratifying choice to keep making, day after day, year after year.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:18-25

This weekend, I hope that you can see the struggles that you face through the eyes of hope in Him…He knows exactly how you are made and the circumstances and characteristics He is permitting in your life. The coming One is coming back…until then, let us be encouraged to give Him our true selves and trust Him with the results.


Being real…is a lifelong journey

Being real is a refining process that happens over the course of a lifetime. This isn’t an easy choice for us when we live in a culture that teaches that change can and should be instant.

How often do we wait on the Lord for His direction and His counsel rather than exhausting every possible man-made plan we can think of first? Habakkuk went before the Lord with his frustrations and after he vented, he said, I will go to the watchtower to wait and see how the Lord will answer me. I wonder how long he had to wait…and I wonder if there were any distractions or temptations along the way. When the Lord spoke to Habakkuk, the news was both good and bad. Judgment was coming upon God’s people and it would be a painful chastening, but there would be an opportunity for restoration of relationship between God and His chosen people. So, Habakkuk could look at that devastating judgment to come with an attitude of reverence and worship.

Was not Abraham called to become the father of a great nation far before he saw any physical possibility of that promise being fulfilled? It took a lifetime commitment of presenting himself before God, time and again, when there was no earthly reason to expect that he and Sarah would have their own son, let alone a nation!

How many years had Hannah poured out her heart to the Lord, requesting a child before that instance we read about in 1 Samuel where at last she presents herself to Him and this time she is at rest, trusting that God has heard her and that He will answer her?

In the historical books, it is evident that so many kings turned aside from God’s ways to pursue their own gain. Even of those that sought the Lord, some walked away from Him in their later days because of a desire for wealth, recognition, or a love of foreign women. They chose what was false to replace what was true and real and for a season, it can fill empty places and exalt those who are proud.

Being real is a choice, but not a one-time only decision. It resurfaces…often.

Being real…it comes at a cost

One of my favorite children’s stories is that of the Velveteen Rabbit.  In this tale, the rabbit asks an older toy, Skin Horse, what it means to be real.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you…It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

I’ve come back to this passage several times over the last few years, mulling over what it costs to be real. When I read about great pillars of Christian faith, I often wonder how they approached that place and what experiences they faced that shaped their character.

As I walk through my own peaks and valleys in the Christian life, I suspect that the Skin Horse is right that being real is a process that takes a long time, that there are aspects of who we are that must be ‘worn down’ or ‘worn away’ with love, and that there will be people who don’t understand what real is or why you’d want to be real.

I pointed out the cost of being real because I believe that the sticker shock alone can turn some people away from the journey to becoming real. It costs us everything, particularly some of the things we hold very dear to us and the hidden things we are reluctant to give up under any circumstances.

The beauty of being real that is seen from afar loses some of its appeal when we are confronted with the commitment and the sacrifice involved. Being real is not for the faint at heart. Real people often share a testimony that tells of God’s faithfulness through many trials over the course of years.

It isn’t for those looking for recognition. You cannot cling to your pride. It is not possible to defend or protect yourself while becoming real. Inevitably, it is a breaking down, a humbling, and a tilling of your soil. At first, perhaps all you will see is God clearing away the chaff from your life. It might not always be pleasant because you actually liked some of those things that He removes from the picture. You may notice that you depended on those things He seems keen to dispose of.

A further caution is that there will be people who just don’t get it. Some of these people will even be fellow Christian travelers. There are aspects of the journey of being real before God that are personal enough to where sometimes other believers who haven’t been called to the more specific details God has entrusted you with won’t understand why you are taking great pains to handle your Christian life in a particular way. For examples, consider those who are called to missions work overseas or those who homeschool their children or those who aim to keep the sabbath in some way. There are tons of other ways that we may be impressed to live out our faith that aren’t a must for every other believer you will encounter.