Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Selah

From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
Psalm 50:2

My prayer closet is a pair of running shoes. On the road. With music blaring in my ears from my iPod.

Super spiritual, I know.

But, seriously.

It's my prayer closet. It's when I hear things. It's when things are stirred in my heart. It's when whispers of the Spirit breathe peace and insight across my noisy brain.

I learned a little something this week while in my mobile prayer closet.

In Bible study on Tuesday, we were talking about the need for believers to be transparent, to not pretend like they've got it all together or all figured out but to be open with their struggles and challenges and failures. I do believe that. Strongly.

But one of the hiccups I find with what we call 'transparency' is its tendency to keep us wallowing in our fallen-ness, detouring us from true transformation. Sometimes, I can take this odd pride in how 'relevant and real' I am in chatting up my mess-ups. I can almost use it as an excuse, because, you know, if I change this issue, then maybe I won't be as 'relate-able' or 'real'.

But Jesus came to heal me of my mess. Tells me to get up. And to sin no more.

So how can I be transparent but transformed? How's that supposed to work?

I saw it. I was taught it. While in my prayer closet of running shoes.

I was finishing up a long run, rounding a long curve of road that leads back to my house. I had been turning over this question in my mind, this idea of transparency, looking at it from different angles, turning the box.  Above me was a strong mid-day sun, skies so blue, wisps of clouds dotting the canvas of sky.  Light.  Transparent blue. Puffs of white. Glory.  And then I heard it.

Transparency means that light can still shine strongly through.

Oh.

I think what I've been calling transparency, what others in my world have been calling transparency is actually opacity. Opacity is a state of blocking light. Opacity has varying levels. In photography, it refers to the amount of light that is absorbed. It's not that light doesn't come through anything that is opaque; depending on the level of opacity, some glow can fight its way through. But opacity is not transparency.

It's just not.

And I think some of what I call transparency in my life is actually opaque. In my retelling of my failures and foibles, I don't know that I'm operating in transparency, in a state that allows the light of the Lord to shine cleanly through. I may be calling opacity transparency and in the doing may obscure glory. When the clutter and dialog of self, self, self is all that is apparent on the screen, I'm opaque. When the bulk of the conversation is about me, me, me with a dash of faith, I'm opaque.

But when the words that define my life and confess my failures and recount my growth are printed on a clear film, a membrane of soul that lets light shine, then I'm being transparent.

And then my experiences better reflect the light that is Him.

Being real. Being honest. Being relevant. Being transparent.

Not opaque.

Selah.

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