It’s the morning after. Masks are down. Costumes on the floor. Decorations will come down later today and be packed away in the “Halloween” box for another year. The only indications of what went on last night are the candy wrappers in the street that eluded our brooms while we were trying to clean up in the darkness last night.
We all played like we were someone else for a while but in the morning we are just us. For some, that’s a relief; for others it’s a disappointment. For everyone it’s business as usual, and business as usual for many of us includes replacing the Halloween mask with something more subtle, but it’s still a mask, and it’s still hiding something.
We all have something to hide. This goes without saying. We all have things about ourselves we don’t want everyone knowing, but if God is going to show up in our lives, we have to run that risk. God will most certainly not be seen when we mask our lives in any way. When we hide ourselves, we hide Him. We are the temple in which God dwells now. The holy of holies is in us and the veil has already been torn in two signifying all have access to God. That is, unless we don’t let anyone in because of what they might see.
One of our readers who volunteers with the youth group at his church wrote the following:
Last year in the youth department in our church, we had a curriculum that had the kids in the various groups share their testimony. Out of 18 kids, 2 were suffering the aftermath of their parents’ divorce, 2 had attempted suicide, 2 cut themselves, 1 had nearly lost everything because of procrastination, others loved money more than God, and so on. There were even those who had lived a rather uneventful life; i.e., Christian home, Christian school, and no traumatic events to report. [That sounds like some masks didn’t come off. I would like to meet the teenagers who have “no traumatic events to report.”]
Our reader goes on to say, The unmasking of this veil of deception revealed that God was present in everyone’s life. They testified He was with them all the time. Interestingly this was only seen once they were unmasked and sharing their true testimony.
Yes, that’s because when we turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. This makes us vulnerable, but it also makes us powerful.
God cannot be revealed in the life of anyone who lives masked. When we hide behind a false impression, we are also hiding God and excusing ourselves from having the Spirit of God influence someone through us.
It’s the morning after. With one mask off, let’s not rush to pick up another. There is a freedom to living unmasked, and there is a power that is unleashed because of Christ’s real love and acceptance of us as we are, not as we should be.
The dear late Brennan Manning used to end every talk with the following. I put it in caps because that’s the way he delivered it — as loudly and as forcefully as he could: “DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE GOD OF JESUS LOVES YOU BEYOND WORTHINESS AND UNWORTHINESS, BEYOND FIDELITY AND INFIDELITY, THAT HE LOVES YOU IN THE MORNING SUN AND THE EVENING RAIN, THAT HE LOVES YOU WHEN YOUR INTELLECT DENIES IT, YOUR EMOTIONS REFUSE IT, YOUR WHOLE BEING REJECTS IT? DO YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD LOVES WITHOUT CONDITION OR RESERVATION, AND LOVES YOU THIS MOMENT AS YOU ARE AND NOT AS YOU SHOULD BE?”
Now who would want to hide the reality of that in their life?
John, you have long embraced and taught the concept of masks for… uh… longer than I care to remember (circa 70s?; perhaps becoming most popular after releasing your work “The New Covenant,” which is a admittedly old and precious album/CD that I’d encourage everyone to hear along with Johnny’s Café.)
Continued. Sorry, my vision sometime fails me and I hit the wrong key.
One last attempt… I appreciate your perspective on “masks.” Your early teachings have made a life-long impact on my spiritual understanding and growth. Yet, I disagree with you on one small — but noteworthy — “sub” issue. You appear to claim that God is not revealed in us when we wear a mask. I posit that we ALL wear masks — in fact, a series of masks, and we consciously or subconsciously change those masks depending on our situation. I believe God can shine through ANY mask despite our stubbornness, ignorance, selfishness, and fear.
Consequently, I submit masks reflect personal spiritual growth more than our effect on others, to wit: I agree our personal masks hinder the ability to show our indwelling of the Holy Spirt to others, but not to the extent of derailing God’s plan and sovereignty. I believe it’s through SANCTIFICATION we remove those masks. Accordingly, wearing masks is more a concern for our own spiritual growth than for fulfilling God’s plan for others.
I have long believed God will accomplish His will using the instruments He chooses despite our obedience or disobedience. Participation in God’s plan is so rewarding that we should strive to become a willing and prepared participant — and be joyful and thankful when He chooses to use us, especially when it’s a very special event or outcome.
Indeed, masks cause a series of issues in our relationship with our Lord and they clearly effect our impact on others. I continue to find new masks I had no idea I was wearing; and I sometimes find old masks I thought had been long discarded. [Recycling of masks in not a good idea even among the eco-friendliest inhabitants:)] I’m in full agreement that we need to be vigilant of the masks we are wearing. Oftentimes it’s the people who love us the most who can most readily identify our masks. We must be open to the observations and counsel of others, and we need to carefully and prayerfully — yet diligently – identify and communicate the masks we see others wear as opportunities arise. It’s not an easy conversation, though I’ve found revealing my vulnerability and trusting someone enough to remove one of my masks in their presence provides the groundwork for a more likely consideration of my observations and opinions regarding their masks. I’ll always concede my infallibility. The other person is ultimately responsible for determining if my observations are correct, but I have a duty to help them see something they may be blinded to.
Keep talking about masks, John. It’s never an issue to be ignored or completely defeated.
San Antonio, TX