In Psalm, 86:11, David asks the Lord to give him an undivided heart, a heart of integrity. Just how much I needed this came clear in the most unlikely of places, the pulpit. A number of years ago, I left a church plant that had ended in failure. Depressed and ashamed, I had taken a job as a high school Bible teacher, filling pulpits on the side for needy churches. That’s when the image came to me while I was preaching one Sunday.
I saw myself wrapped in layer upon layer of a gauze-like material, speaking out from under it all in a muffled and muted voice. The minister I projected outwardly spoke correct theology and sound Biblical ideas, but the real man lay hidden somewhere underneath all that gauze, the man my listeners didn’t know, the man I didn’t even know. I felt divided from my hearers, divided from the truths I was proclaiming, divided from the Lord, even divided from myself. Perhaps the congregation thought the sermon was instructive or even inspirational. All I know is that I felt like an impostor.
How did this happen? How did I get this way? And then I realized who had wrapped those layers of gauze around me. I had. I saw clearly for the first time the deep divide in me. But what made it even more disturbing was this: I had no idea what to do about it.
To be someone of integrity means that we are the same person on the outside as we are on the inside. There are no layers of gauze, no masks. There is no posing or hiding. There’s only one problem here. Every person I have ever known is an imposter, including myself.
There is only one way to find the integrity we all long for. It’s to do what often terrorizes us: strip off the masks and tell our heart stories to trusted friends. This has been my journey since that defining image came to me in the pulpit. It has been a journey of both raw fear and exultant freedom. Only here will we feel undivided, having a whole heart for the Lord, no longer expending our energy in hiding, energy that will eventually exhaust us. Now we can live in the open, in the light, giving our lives to loving others and expanding Christ’s kingdom.
I am still on that journey to become undivided myself. I hope you are on that journey also.