I don’t know Ted Haggard. I know about him, at least what I’ve read and heard about him, which is not good. Haggard, a nationally recognized pastor, lost his pastorate after it was revealed that he was using illegal drugs while also participating in a homosexual affair.
This was heartbreaking and destructive enough. What troubles me even more, however, is the unnoticed root that nourished these more obvious destructive behaviors: hiddenness.
I’m not sure anyone really knew or knows Ted Haggard–not his colleagues, not his ex-congregation, not his wife, maybe even not Ted himself. This distance from others, this invisibility from himself created an alternate universe in which he could live disconnected from what he told himself and others he believed and lived for.
Unfortunately Haggard is not the first nor the last who will struggle with a self imposed and self deceiving hiddenness.
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TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)
2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
We all wear masks. We all play roles and have secrets. This is part of the human condition. The danger comes when our masks grow permanently attached to our faces and we no longer recognize ourselves in the mirror, or when we award ourselves the Oscar for a role deceptively played.
I believe this was (is) at the heart of the Haggard ordeal. He compartmentalized himself and no one, except God, knew the real Ted. I don’t mean that only in the negative sense. It’s like being trapped too long in one of those halls of mirrors at an amusement park. Soon you can’t discern the real you. Am I the angry one? The sad one? The kind one? The evil one? You turn circles frantically. You lose yourself. You fall to the floor exhausted. You need help.
In that moment you need someone who knows you intimately, someone with a foundation in reality, someone who can take you by the hand and lead you out to truth.
Facing the possibility of losing himself Paul cries out, “I do not do the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep doing. . . . Who will rescue me?”
Notice how public Paul is about his continual failure. He knows how dangerous it is believe your own good and bad press. He knows it is not enough to admit our faults secretly to ourselves or ostensibly to God alone. Paul is honest with himself, his trusted friends in his faith community, and with his God. All three points of contact bring focused truth and freedom into our lives. This authenticity is the antidote to our destructive tendency toward hiddenness.
I know I lean toward that dark and deadly hiddenness I believe Ted Haggard fell into. And I believe with all my heart that when you and I and Ted Haggard let God and those he calls to walk our night roads with us into those dark places, the light of truth comes on and we can discover that, though we are good and evil all wrapped together, there is rescue and redemption in Christ.
- How does the Ted Haggard story make you feel?
- Which reading spoke most clearly to you?
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