I was walking with a close friend last fall, and the conversation steered from present struggles into the past. He began to recount a difficult event from his early childhood, and the next thing I knew he was choking back tears. I was at first surprised by his honesty and then honored that he would reveal such a defining moment in his life, one he had kept secret from most. I then realized that I understood my friend in a way I had never known, and I loved him now as a brother all the more.
My one experience is repeatedly multiplied in the story groups I have led for a number of years. Here men gather to reveal their story bit by bit and to listen in to the stories of others. The same response occurs. First there is surprise at the honesty and then a sense of feeling honored with such secrets. Finally, there is an growing understanding and love that is transformational. We not only know others; we feel known. Shame is shattered, and love begins to heal.
But take all this one step further. The Bible is the revelation of God’s secrets. It shows us the heart of God in a way we could have never guessed at on our own. David declares that “the Lord confides in those who fear him” (Ps. 25:14). To those who are willing to listen, God wants to share the secrets of his heart to us in the Scriptures. We should feel surprised at such a revelation—surprise, and then honor, and finally understanding and love. For God wants to be known and loved, and he wants us to feel known and loved also.
Jesus went in the same direction. He said that all that he had received from the Father he made known to his disciples. That’s why he called them friends, not slaves (John 15:15). He also wants us as his followers to feel that special connection to him and to his Father, to listen in and understand his heart, and then to love him with all of our hearts, staying in his love by offering it to those around us. It is in this love that shame is obliterated.
Two questions to leave you with: What secrets in your heart do you need to reveal? And what would change if you read the Bible as the revelation of God’s heart to you?
For more information about story groups beginning this fall, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org