Sweet Surrender

In Disguise

Bear bones crop bigger“…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

-1 Samuel 16:7

This Sunday our church will hold its 3rd Annual Trunk or Treat. The cars, the adults and the kids will all be in costume. I love costumes. Whether it’s Halloween or a play, VBS or a Sunday School video, I rarely miss the chance to pretend to be someone else – just for a time. But earlier in my life I really struggled with pretending to be someone else most of the time.

I was an odd kid. If you’ve ever seen ‘Young Sheldon,’ I was kind of like that. While other kids were playing with Barbies or crashing Hot Wheels, I preferred to read the encyclopedia and memorize world capitals. I was more interested in hearing about the famine in Africa than seeing Rock Stars during Live Aid. I often felt that I was speaking a whole different language than my peers…or, like Sheldon, that I was a whole other species.

During Middle School I decided on a plan to ‘fit in.’ I donned the ‘uniform’ of the day: Levi jeans, a polo shirt with an animal embroidered on it, and Nike tennis shoes. I shunned all the kids who seemed ‘different’ or ‘weird.’ I no longer immediately raised my hand to answer the teachers’ questions. For a time, it worked. I developed a small circle of friends and had a place at the cafeteria table. But I couldn’t keep pretending to care about things I didn’t and not to care about things I did. My real friends kept liking me anyway and other kids teased me regardless of my ‘cool’ disguise. I later realized that all the kids felt insecure about some aspect of themselves and their lives and did their best to hide it to avoid becoming an outcast.

I’ve often wondered as an adult if we move beyond this stage. At jobs, in the PTA, in friend groups and sadly, at various churches, I’ve witnessed people putting on a mask and costume pretending to be more competent, more successful, more ‘together’ than they truly are. Social media only increases the pressure to present a perfect façade. And while that’s sad, it’s even more sad when these false masks of perfection get weaponized into hypocrisy, demanding that others rise to the level of ‘perfection’ or conformity which we ourselves cannot maintain.

Jesus is the ultimate sanctuary for ‘outcasts’ who can no long wear the mask and pretend. Jesus bids us to come as we are. He doesn’t need us to pretend to be in control or have it all together. He knows we don’t. That’s what He came to earth for. He wants to deliver us from the entire worldly system of status, success, false perfection and secret sin. He sees right through our masks and disguises and looks straight into our hearts. He sees the brokenness, the shame, the fear, the spiritual bondage, the anxieties, the wounds. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” He realigns our view of what is important in life: “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” Philippians 3:7-8. And through our relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit within us, He transforms us to be more like Himself, enabling us to accept everyone. “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus…. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” Romans 15:5-7.

It's fun to put on a costume and pretend to be an animal, a favorite character or even something a little spooky. But on the inside, we’re all sinners in need of a Savior. Some of us are blessed enough to have found Him and are being transformed. The rest are waiting to be accepted and find a safe place to finally take off their masks and be seen. Then the healing can start.

PRAYER: Father, give me Your eyes to see beyond the masks and disguises of those around me. Give me Your heart to become a sanctuary of acceptance so that we can share freely and I can introduce them to Jesus and his healing transformation. Amen.

Happy Trunk-or-Treating!



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