I just returned from sabbatical which was a time for me to purposefully think about what God is doing in my life, what the interior of my life consists of and why I do the things I do.
If you remember the old westerns or have every been to one of those western "boom towns" you are familiar with those stores and shops that have "false front" architecture. From the front these places are built to look impressive, even extravagant. From Main Street, these buildings seem perfectly composed. However, upon from the side, rear or inside the building reveals that the architecture is not what it appears from the front. Closer inspection reveals that there is no interlocking relationship between the beautiful "false front" and the rest of the actual building. The inner composition of the building lacks integrity, and can often reflect downright shabby craftsmanship.
For me, the practice of sabbath and solitude is all about getting beyond the false front of our lives. Away from a life lived off of curb appeal and compliments of the crowd. Solitude and Sabbath with the Lord's help leads me away from the temptation to define my life by what others think about me, or by the way I project myself to others. In spending time alone with God, the false-front facade loses its luster, and I come to grips with the real "me". Behind close doors in prayer with the Father, I quit looking at myself through the shallow view of Main Street, and I begin to get in and around and underneath my life, discovering my true composition.
Looking at ourselves with "no false-fronts attached", can be humbling and without the grace of God, downright depressing. I discovered during my sabbatical that there are aspects of my life that are not composed as well as I would like to imagine. Once I got beyond the curb appeal that I project to the world around me, I began to see myself in a more truthful, sobering way. And, the truth is that I didn't always like what I saw, or who I saw behind the facade. Can you relate?
It was in discovering the lack of composition within my own life that I was able to reclaim the truths of the gospel. Because when the false-front is ripped away, and we see who we really are, we are either driven to despair, or are forced to reach out and grasp more tightly to the grace of God in Jesus. I can recall echoing the words of Paul in I Timothy 1:15: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst".
Far from devastating me, the real truth about who I am beyond the facade had power and gave me reason to lean deeper into my own need for a savior. I am thankful that Jesus sees deeper than my curb appeal, yet loves me still. He sees the ugliness and the disorganized mess within me, yet offers his perfectly composed life for my own decomposed life. Despite the messiness of my meager house, he desires to make his home there! This truth leads me to love him and empowers me to worship and glory Him.
Pastor Loretta spoke this past week on taking time to look at ourselves and ask why do we do the things we do. Hopefully, this has been a question you've been taking inventory on this week. As you get alone with God, may the false-fronts you have consciously or sub-consciously erected come down, giving you insight into who you really are. And, in that messy place, may you cling to the grace of God in Jesus Christ who "came into the world, to save sinners--of whom I am the worst."