Earlier today my cell phone bellowed out the UGA fight song. Since I was busy facebooking, I decided to let my voicemail pick it up. An hour later, I listened to my caller’s message.
“Scott, I got a distressing call today about a situation I think you may be right in the middle of.” Or I think that’s what the voice said. Hard to tell as it was breaking up a bit. No, I think that’s exactly what he said.
My heart skipped a beat. Why the constricted chest? I asked myself. Are you feeling guilty?
No. Not a bit. I have no bones hidden away, no corpses buried. Been faithful to my spouse. Handling of money has not been an issue. So why did I gulp for air? Probably the same reason our hearts race when a police car swerves in behind us. We can be driving the speed limit with our seat belt on and up-to-date tag, no open containers in the seat beside us, and still—still—expect those blue lights to start pulsating.
I punched in my friend’s number and got his voice mail. “Hey,” I said after the customary beep, “got your message. It kinda broke up on me. Call me.” I tried not to sound too edgy.
An hour felt like infinity, but finally my friend returned my call. But during that hour I imagined all kinds of nefarious reasons for the delay. Perhaps he is calling others asking for prayer as he has to confront me with some (unimaginable) sin issue. Perhaps he is gathering more concrete evidence. Those minutes dragggged by.
When he did call, I was so relieved that the information he posited had to do with someone else’s issue and that he was faintly aware that I knew to some degree what was going on–which, of course, put me “in the middle of it”. And he was right. I did know things about said situation. And my heart had been bleeding for my brother whose wife was leaving him. But I was still glad the news was about this third party and not me, as insensitive as that sounds.
When I disconnected, I blew out a large reserve of pent up breath. And then I looked to the heavens and thanked God.
I was grateful for a life with no secrets. No hidden tapes. No tell-tale hearts thumping beneath the boards. Grateful that when I first heard my friend’s message, I had to rack my brain to wonder…what does he know about me that I don’t? Of course, most of the angst I felt initially came from an acute awareness that the enemy just salivates at the thought of ‘planting’ evidence in the minds of other n’er-do-wells who just love a good, juicy tale. I knew that there are those in the church who thrive on, as Paul says, “empty talk” because they are “gossips and busybodies”. A few verses down Paul tells Timothy not to entertain accusations against leaders unless corroborated by two or three (credible) witnesses. Not bearers of false tales.
I urgently appealed to my Defense Attorney in heaven during those arduous minutes of waiting to see what I had been ‘tagged’ with. I immediately knew He was by my side. My Paraclete. It was just a little comfort to know that on that day, by God’s grace, I knew the only way the enemy could torture my character was to plant evidence on me.
But of course you know how the story ends. It wasn’t Nathan after all. I pray it never has to be.
But if it ever does have to be—God forbid—I still have an “advocate” on High, Jesus Christ. That glorious word translates from ‘paraclete’, which is one who comes to your aid when you’ve gotten yourself in a fix. The ministry of a paraclete is to console, counsel, comfort, defend and intercede. We’ve limited the word ‘paraclete’ to only mean comforter when it is so much more! The Latin equivalent means ‘to strengthen’ and I am reminded that when the broken bone mends, it becomes stronger at its broken-and-fixed place than in its original state.
This is what happens when we repent for the sin which leads to brokenness. Our Lord knows full well we are guilty but mends the offense with soothing melted grace and covers it with His righteousness which is like iron sheathing or calcified holiness.
When I sin and repent, I’m covered. No Nathan need come for a visit and a story.
When all’s right with my world, I’m covered. Let Nathan come visit and I will tell him a story. And he can say, “you’re free…do for the LORD all that is in your heart to do. He will bless it.”
“Thou art the man.”
“Thou art free!”
Which would you choose?