Have you been spending time with God lately? Have you been having a quiet time?
Have you been reading your Bible lately? What have you read that really spoke to you?
Have you looked upon anything recently that was unwholesome and allowed your gaze to linger? Tell me about that.
What has God been convicting you about recently?
Have you forgiven her yet? Really? Have you called?
Did you talk with your husband about your frustrations? When? How did the conversation go?
What is God teaching your about Himself in recent days?
Have you used any foul language recently? Have you taken the Lord's name in vain?
Did you stay on your eating plan this week? Did you binge and purge any?
Have you prayed about that or just worried over it?
Have you handled your finances in a godly way this month? Did you keep any purchases from your spouse? Did you buy things you didn't need on a whim?
These are the tough questions that many of us squirm against. In fact, some of you may be shaking your heads in disbelief that I would even suggest someone ask you such personal things.
Yesterday we talked about the choice to live in the light, where Jesus walks, where we can easily and consistently walk with Him. The Bible tells us in 1 John that we must make a conscientious decision to walk in the light, otherwise we'll gravitate toward the recesses of darkness every time.
Now I don't claim to live out in the blazing heat and the ultra brightness of the light all the time. Lord knows I'd be better off if I did. But, like most of you, I find myself nursing little secrets, hiding little indulgences, keeping under cover that which is less than flattering about myself, pretending to be what I am not in the forgiving shadows of distance and self-protection. Truth be told, if I'm not careful I can find myself right back in the pits of my past simply because I've managed to slink off all by my lonesome in the cloak of withdrawal.
But then that's the problem isn't it? When we're walking in the darkness, we're oh so prone to fall into pits, whether they are familiar ones from our past or new ones (How did that get there?!) dug by a sly enemy, just waiting to trip us up.
No, it's much safer, if not so convenient, to live out in the wide open spaces, under the full glare of God's holy light. That light may at times feel to me like a scrutinizing spotlight, glaring into my eyes and exposing my flaws with no discretion, but so be it. That light saves my neck and so much more on a daily basis.
Here are a few suggestions for living out in the light:
- Enlist one or two accountability partners. One might be your spouse, but then another is needed. For who will keep you accountable to your marriage when you're at odds with your spouse otherwise? Even if you have an accountability partner type of relationship with your husband, I still suggest you enlist two godly girlfriends to keep you accountable.
- Let your accountability partners know that you are asking for accountability coupled with grace. You're not looking for someone to wrestle you into submission, but simply to keep you in the light so God can work in your life.
- Give these accountability partners the permission to ask you the tough questions. You know the questions you need to answer each month better than I do, but the list at the beginning of this post is a good place to start. If you have a sin that creeps up on you occasionally, you definitely need to include questions which will unearth any slippage in that area.
- Determine to answer these accountability partners truthfully no matter what. This whole concept hinges on honesty.
- If your accountability partner's questions bring to light a sin of commission or omission in your life, allow her to help you get back on the right track. Talk about what derails you. Together, devise a plan for steering clear of that which sets off the chain of ungodly actions or thoughts.
- Enlist your accountability partner's prayer support for the areas in which you are the weakest. Pray together if possible. Remember, God is the one who will do the work in your life. But your partner can help by praying for you.
- Resist the temptation to grow defensive when your friend asks the questions you have permitted her to ask. You will grow defensive occasionally if you're normal. But recognize that for what it is - resistance to the light - and allow her to pull back the covers ever so gently anyhow.
- Repeat the process on a regular basis, whatever works best for you, but at least quarterly. Few of us can stay out of the darkness much longer than that.
Look, this takes some guts. But as I mentioned yesterday, many of us admire a woman named Beth for just such courage. You may think you're in awe of her great teaching and womanly communication, but I'd challenge that. I think, at the root of it all, we're drawn to her transparency and her willingness to let God dig around in the deep places of her soul. When we look at her we see a clean vessel, one that's been scrubbed shiny new through the processes of self-examination, confession, and accountability to others.
You can be that woman, too. You can shine with a luster only achieved through willing vulnerability and honest accountability. And when you're shiny clean and living out in the light, the Light will shine right through you and into a dark, dark world, illuminating at least a little bit at a time. And then you won't even mind a tough question or two because the warmth of the light will have grown familiar and safe, and the darkness will no longer hold any appeal.
Do you have an accountability partner, even if you haven't called your relationship that? Maybe a best friend or sister or mentor who asks you the tough questions? How does that benefit you? Please testify!