Journal Entry // July 19, 2022
Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the LORD your God.” (ESV)1 Samuel 15:30
If I ever need a picture of what it looks like to put on the mask of fidelity to hide the ugliness of willful sin, this is the picture that should be fresh in my mind. The story of Saul in 1 Samuel 15 is almost a sympathetic one as I read through its pages. I marvel at how easily Saul is misled or misunderstands the command of God to devote the Amalekites to complete destruction. I shake my head at how Saul could ever think that he’s completely destroying when he freely admits that he spared the best and the king as well. I want to read in disbelief that a man called by God and confirmed to be king through all these amazing moments, could so easily neglect a command of God and believe that he was actually being faithful. Then I remember… I do this each and every day.
Saul is right to begin here with an acknowledgement of sin. This is the starting place for all of us as we walk this journey. But this statement of acknowledged sin is quickly followed by the fear of people. Saul is clearly more concerned with his appearance and reputation before the people and leaders than he is about his actual sin and what the Lord thinks. Saul is quick to put on the mask of fidelity. A mask that is intended for one purpose. A mask that is meant to portray that everything is great and life is good. A mask that shows a false faithfulness to the Lord and his commandments. A mask that presents a lie to not only everyone around him, but to his own heart. A lie that will be told often enough that the heart of Saul will come to believe it is actually true.
I shake my head at Saul as I read this, because in this story about Saul I see myself being portrayed. I find it a simple matter to put on a mask of fidelity. A mask of the faithful Christian that knows the right words to say and the right actions to do and the right people to listen to and the right church to attend. The problem is that this mask becomes more important to me than being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. I begin to care more about what others think. I begin to care more about my reputation than I do about the darkness that is flooding my heart. This is the danger of the mask. The mask isn’t just a lie that I portray to those around me, it is a lie that I portray to myself. As I perfect this lie, as I continue to develop and shape this mask to meet my needs, it becomes my everything. The mask and the lie are my identity. I lose myself in the lie and give all my strength and attention to upholding the lie, because what am I without it?
Praise the Lord that he removed my mask. I prayed for the Lord to strip away all that was hindering me from truly following him. The Lord was gracious in his response. He removed every hinderance and stumbling block. He removed everything from my life that I was trusting in that wasn’t Jesus. Was it painful? Yes. Is it still painful? Absolutely, but my God has rescued me from the path of destruction! I often get depressed and look back at all the many blessings that the Lord had brought into my life and I lament that they were all removed. I struggle with this moment of wandering in the wilderness. Then I see the joy of hope in Christ. He is all I have now. He is all I need now. He is all I have ever needed and will need. I don’t want to go back to the way I was. I don’t want to go back to a life of worry and anxiety about my mask of fidelity. I don’t ever want to wear that again. The only thing I need is faithfulness to my Savior. I only need to love him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. He is so gentle and kind. I need not hide my ugliness from him. I need only acknowledge sin, repent of my ways, and believe in the hope of salvation through Christ alone.