Liz Curtis Higgs
“Letting Go of a Secret Sin”
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11 (NIV)
First, a confession: I used to indulge in a certain guilty pleasure, especially while traveling.
Buying what I needed in an airport shop, I then inhaled it on the plane, hoping no one was looking. No, not dark chocolate, and not illicit drugs, but something equally addictive: romance novels.
Love stories are one thing. These were something else. Not uplifting Christian novels. The other kind. Pretty flowers on the cover, innocent-sounding titles, but the content definitely didn’t qualify as “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
A happily married woman, I convinced myself that reading such stories was harmless. I rationalized that since I wasn’t fantasizing about other men, wasn’t hurting anyone and wasn’t breaking any laws, that it wasn’t all that bad.
Today’s verse tells us, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret” (Ephesians 5:11-12, NIV).
The romance novels I chose--dozens upon dozens--were definitely fruitless, producing nothing healthy in my spiritual life or in my marriage. And they were decidedly shameful. I did everything I could to hide them, like reading in bed at night with my back toward my husband, or reading in public with a quilted book cover masking the subject matter.
When we need to hide what we’re doing, we need to ask ourselves why.
Forgive me if I’m stepping on your toes, beloved. It’s not my job to pass judgment, only to show you how much Jesus loves His daughters. So much so that He stands ready to rescue us the moment we realize we’re drowning and cry out for help.
For me, that desperate moment came during a Christian women’s conference in Georgia nearly 20 years ago. During the closing minutes of the Saturday night session, the speaker offered an invitation to come forward and have a heart-to-heart conversation with the Lord.
Here’s the thing: I was the speaker who offered that invitation.
The worship leader sat behind me, softly playing music on a keyboard, while I encouraged our sisters in Christ to take a brave step of faith and come forward to pray. Some came alone; others came in pairs, often weeping. The empty floor in front of the stage began to fill with women seeking His forgiveness.
Your turn, Liz.
My words faded into silence. The prompting in my heart wasn’t audible, but I knew it was the Lord speaking to me, and I knew what He wanted me to do.
Now, Liz. Go.
I put down the microphone with shaking hands, nodded at the musician to keep playing, then stepped down and knelt on the floor. Forgive me, Lord. Help me, Lord. My whispered confession poured out. So did my tears, hot with shame.
As I sensed His mercy washing over me, my cheeks grew cooler, and my breathing eased. I was left with nothing but gratitude and a clear sense of what had to be done when I got home.
The question was, what to do now? A thousand women had watched their speaker abandon the platform to pray. What must they be thinking? I stepped back onstage and faced the audience. Turns out, they weren’t thinking about me at all. They were kneeling. Everywhere.
On the floor, in the aisles, in front of their chairs.
It wasn’t my invitation they responded to. It was God’s.
He wants us to live in the light of His love, and He asks us to leave our dark deeds behind.
The first step is the hardest: admitting we’re in trouble. But, oh, the freedom we gain when we discard our secret sins and step into His light!
Heavenly Father, thank You for not leaving us in darkness and shame, for showering us with grace, for showing us the way out. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 12:46, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (NIV)
James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (NIV)