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Lines By Lee

Keeping Secrets


Can you keep a secret? The ability to keep a secret is usually seen as a good thing. We never want to break a confidence. However, sometimes secrets can be a problem. It is no secret that I want to consider that topic.

Last week I went to a Russ Taff concert. You may remember him from the Imperials. Many know him because of his work with the Gaithers. He has performed for over four decades and won a number of Grammy awards. His voice is incredible. So is his story. For a long time, he had secrets.

Taff grew up in a Christian home. His father was a Pentecostal preacher. Some days he didn't make it to church because he was drunk. Russ was too young to keep secret the fact that his parents fought. When word got out, he was abused. He kept that a secret. His family would bounce from town to town and church to church. The pastor loved Jesus. He was also an alcoholic.

Russ began to perform at a young age. His success made his father go into a rage. He was constantly told he was worthless. Eventually, his two older brothers would die from alcohol abuse. A younger brother served time for drugs and wants nothing to do with God. Russ Taff kept singing but also kept secrets. He, too, was struggling with being an alcoholic even as he traveled the world praising the Lord in song. The singer was successful and miserable. God finally brought him to a point where he could no longer hold on to his secret struggle. He opened up and got help. Now he is free and helps others who were abused and who abuse. As one line from a song of his says, "I've never gone so far that I've forgotten my way home."

For those who have been abused and sinned against it is natural to keep pain inside. Many feel like they lack value. They end up distorting the truth of situations. Even folks who know the Lord and pray countless times still feel alone. It is natural to seek out things to numb the pain behind the secrets they are keeping. That never turns out well.

Of course there are many times when we get into sinful patterns and habits for no known reason. People who were not abused can still have an emptiness when not allowing the Spirit of God to control their lives. That leads to sinful choices. Sometimes there is no hiding the consequence. More often than not the sin is kept secret. It can go on for way too long. When that happens, not only is God hurt, but so are people.

As good as some people become at keeping secrets, whether as victims or agents, it is easy to forget there is one from whom secrets cannot be kept. The all-knowing Lord sees our actions and knows our thoughts. If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since He knows the secrets of the heart (Psalm 44:20-21)? God knows our hearts and the secrets contained therein. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence (Psalm 90:8). Everything we have been through, thought, and done is before God. There really are no secret sins because what we think is in the darkness is seen in the light of His presence. Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?" declares the Lord. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the Lord (Jeremiah 23:24).

So even the most committed Christian can find oneself denying the fact that God is powerful, present, and He knows all. That denial can allow one to perpetuate living in bitterness, fear, pain, or sin. Deep down we know that God is fully aware. Yet we get so good at hiding and pretending that coming clean with our secrets may not even occur to us. If we do think about opening up, the prospects of the fallout seem overwhelming. So we continue to live guilt-ridden, defeated lives.

People who are in churches that do not focus on God's grace and mercy have an especially hard time at giving up their secret lives. They are pretty certain that if and when others find out, they will be ostracized. Even if they believe that God forgives, they doubt that people will. It is easy to think that one is alone in their particular history or current struggle. Why involve others with my problems when they have their own issues?

On the other hand, those who grasp God's grace and appreciate His willingness and promises to forgive often claim 1 John 1:9. But it becomes a tendency to go on sinning so that grace may abound. As Paul said in the strongest terms, "by no means!" We are not to take advantage of the fact that God will keep forgiving our secret sins.

If nothing else motivates us to come out of hiding and reveal our secrets, consider these words: Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13). Nothing in our house is hidden from God. Our phones contain no secrets before the Lord. Terrible things that may have been done to us have been witnessed by a sovereign God. We like the security and comfort of being covered up. One day, all will be uncovered and laid bare. His eyes are wide open. God knows. Ultimately He is the only one to whom we will answer.

The context of this impactful verse is interesting. It mentions the power of the Word of God. It is alive, active and penetrating. When we are immersed in the Bible we can get help with our thoughts and attitudes. And Hebrews 4:14 gives great hope. In Jesus, we have a great high priest. He understands us and represents us. As Russ Taff sings, "From the dawn of creation to the end of it all stands the shadow of the cross." Our secrets are safe there. So give them to Jesus "right here, right now." There is hope in our darkness. And that is no secret!

Editor's Note: The title of Pastor Seese's column on May 9 should have read "The Good Old Days." The Herald apologizes for its error.


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