*Or almost all
Change is coming, and it is coming soon.
It all started a few months ago, when there was an unexpected turn in my life. Unlike God who has His plan worked out from the beginning,** I was unsure how I wanted to respond.
I live in a country where women cover their hair:
and sometimes their entire faces.
It bothers me quite a bit. It always has, even though some of my dear relatives on the other side of the ocean do the same. Yet it’s a little hypocritical of me to be troubled by people who feel the need to hide something from public view, since I have never posted a picture of myself. Unless you count this:
Now when I first started reading people’s blogs, I was shocked to see what they were sharing for anyone to read. I’m from New England, with a Pennsylvania Dutch** heritage. I’m highly introverted [I’m really a hermit at heart]. I live in a country where free speech sometimes costs a lot. I have a quasi-pseudonym on Facebook with this picture:
So when I started serving spiritual snacks on a blog, I didn’t want to share specific details about myself like my full name and where I lived and what I do. The fact that I started a public blog at all was a little miracle of obedience.
However, my private approach recently had a head-on collision with my day job, which is writing books. Suddenly, a book of mine was accepted for publication.
My name was going to be on the cover.** My picture was going to be used in marketing.
Of course I knew that when I started writing a decade ago. However that was in the dark ages when life in the fast lane was slow. [No one thought so as the days went zooming by. However now that we live at the speed of light, we know better.]
I worked in happy obscurity before blogs [popularized in 2002], Facebook , and Twitter . If you were fortunate to be published, your name was put on the book. If you were really lucky, it appeared in a newspaper or magazine ad [remember those?]. If someone wanted to learn more about you, they had to go to the library and look it up on microfilm.
Now we live in an age where viral no longer means only something deadly to avoid. Going viral is also something people aspire to.**
In this brave new world of internet promotion, I started getting forms from my publisher asking for my website [like the anonymous one I wondered?], my Facebook page [like my quasi-pseudonym?], and my Twitter tag [like the two text messages I send a month?]
Given my hermit tendencies, the idea of putting my name and my face out on the web for anyone to find was, to say the least, a little troubling.
God is not hidden
I started talking to God about the problem and He reminded me that He Himself is not hidden. I have fellowship with a personal God who relates to me on a personal level.
He calls people by name. He makes a covenant with people. Over and over and over again, His revelation comes to an individual person. And when He wanted to restore the broken connection between Him and each one of us, He came to us in human form. He didn’t send a holy book, He came as the Living Word who walked and talked among us.
When the time came,
He set aside the privileges of deity
and took on the status of a slave, became human!
Having become human, He stayed human.
It was an incredibly humbling process.
He didn’t claim special privileges.
Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life
and then died a selfless, obedient death—
and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Phillipians 2:6-8 The Message
Now there is no need for us to hide
From the moment when Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden, we’ve been hiding–from Him, from each other, from ourselves. But when Jesus died and atoned for the sin of the world, the veil between God and people was ripped in two. Now there is no reason for us to hide. We can meet with God without any curtain or barrier between us.
Whenever they turn to face God as Moses did,
God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face!
They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence,
not a piece of chiseled stone.
And when God is personally present, a living Spirit,
that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete.
We’re free of it! All of us!
Nothing between us and God,
our faces shining with the brightness of His face.
And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah,
our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful
as God enters our lives and we become like Him.
II Corinthians 3:16-18 The Message.
Becoming like Him includes being personal. It includes loving people, and not with some distant, abstract, universal love. It means being present with people in the here and now, listening, seeing, touching, speaking. No wonder that one of the first things the Light of the World told His listeners was:
You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.
God is not a secret to be kept.
We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand.
Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!
Keep open house; be generous with your lives.
By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God,
this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 The Message
And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take my light and put it out in the open.
Links and Notes
God’s plan that He had worked out from the beginning:
Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son. Ephesians 1:4-6 The Message
**When my book was accepted, I did consider using a pseudonym until I found good reasons not to.
**A great example of going viral happened earlier this year when rapper Jefferson Bethke posted a poem on Youtube about why he hated religion but loved Jesus. That was on January 10th. He expected a few thousand views but instead,three days after it was posted it had received 6 million views. By Saturday, January 14th, it was up to 10.2 million views. In a week, it received 14 million views, and by two weeks it had been seen over 16 million times.
Three months later, it has been watched 20 million times. That’s viral.