As I opened my eyes the first thing that struck was the whiteness of a robe. Where can you buy a robe that white and with a 900 thread count. And the sandals – exquisite – cream colored with the texture of a new-born fawn. Immediately my nervousness went on alert. Sure enough I had perceived an old man, white hair and beard, dressed in a white robe – he was standing by a high desk with scrolls of paper running off the sides. My eleven fellow high school friends were in front of St. Peter to be judged – and to see if we were worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven. I had loathed this day, sure that I would be found wanting, but half hoping I would be with my friends, Now the day had arrived with him towering over me. I There were eleven others – good friends – also standing at attention – much of life I had muddled my way through with.
So here we are standing in front of St. Peter waiting for the questions that will let us enter the kingdom or not. I was hoping for a middle earth piece of real estate myself. We all expect to defend our actions on earth and hope there were enough black marks to make up the difference. I know what you are thinking, St. Peter says to each one of he wanted something else – tell me your darkest secret – each one of you – the ones no one else knows about. Hmm, not exactly what we had expected as we each get weighed on judgments scales.
But let’s do as St. Peter asked. Dig way down inside ourselves. Way down. The feelings that are deepest inside. The darkest secrets. Things from the past that no one knows about. Shameful things, where you have your deepest regrets and wishes that we could have another chance.
In some ways that is who we are inside. Our darkest secrets from our past. Only we know. Maybe it was a petty theft, maybe it was ruining someone’s reputation for life, maybe involved someone losing their life. The secrets range all over, it’s always a disappointing feeling because it hangs around all of our lives. Its shameful and wants to remained hidden. No matter how we try, we can’t reverse this feeling of disappointment in ourselves because we haven’t been able to forgive and forget those things that no one else’s knows about. Just stop right now and think about your own shameful actions and secrets – think about them – not very pleasant for any of us including myself. It took about microsecond to come up with two of three I would never want known.
In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, the best-selling author in the world was Lloyd Douglas – he wrote The Robe, The Big Fisherman and Magnificent Obsession. The Obsession in the last title you can even remember what it was about – that’s okay, most people can’t either.
In the novel the theory is generally explained – it runs like this – most of us live lives that are less than they could be – we tend to be pessimistic and apprehensive a lot of the time and have a hard time consistently doing positive things. The reason is, Lloyd Douglas states in the novel, is that when we perform a good deed, we generally advertise, it, display, talk about It, put our name on the side of a building – but someway we let it be known – and thus collect and enjoy the credit and praise we receive right then an there. But when we do something cheap or mean or in conflict with our own value system and with the Lord’s commandments, we carefully hide and deny, so that the credit for acts of this kind remains with us and accumulates – it becomes part of our dark secrets, which grow and grow. We can repent of them, but they still stick with us. A person like most of us who lives such a life style can be chronically bankrupt in a moral and spiritual sense. If at a given moment, our lives were required to be put on a balance scale most of us we would be found wanting as the scale tipped down on the negative side. We couldn’t pay up or settle out, for our net worth is less than zero, its negative.
In Magnificent Obsession, Dr. Hudson asks where this theory of good and bad secrets comes from? He is referred to The New Testament. The answer is shown to him in the first few verses of Mathew 6.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the ahypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have bglory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Let me read the last sentence again.
“That thine alms may be in secret” dig way down inside yourself. Way down. The things that are deepest inside. The darkest secrets. Things from the past that no one knows about. Where you have your deepest regrets. Its usually disappointing a feeling because it hangs around all of our lives. No matter how we try we can’t reverse this feeling – of disappointment in ourselves because we haven’t been able to forgive and forget those things that no one else knows about. A close look shows that what required of us we will be found wanting.
We couldn’t pay up or settle out, for our net worth is less than zero. It’s negative.
Dr. Hudson starts doing a good deed in secret and confessed his follies and mistakes publicly. Eventually he becomes a world renowned brain surgeon.
But we may say that these events just happened in a novel. Give me some real examples. Well, here is probably the best one – Until he was 50 years old Lloyd Douglas was a decent but not outstanding minister. They something happened and he became the most widely read novelist in the English Language – he never would say what happened but its pretty clear that his own practice of his own magnificent obsession brought him the success the Lord had praised.
Now you need to take it one step further – that is to do the good deeds known not only to the receiver but also to you as the giver also. No one will ever know, other than you. And God, of course. As the Lord looks down on each of us and looks at our black secrets and our unknown good ones, I believe that the unknown ones will far outweigh, because no one knows – there is no praise or adulations.
Many times we are asked to test the scriptures or the written gospel. This again about that last sentence in the 6th chapter of Mathew – that our Heavenly Father sees the alms we do in secret, and as he sees will reward us openly. The only way to really find out for ourselves is to put the 6th chapter of Matthew to the test – and see if the promise will come true.
It’s true, lets face it, in many ways we are our secrets - I would encourage each of us to exchange our darkest secrets for what can be your brightest ones by following the Lords council in Matthew.
- Do something of value that the receiver never knows.
- Make sure that no one knows about what you have done.
- Believe through your faith that the Lord will reward you for these efforts.
Remember you will become these good secrets within you.