When God asks us to lay ourselves bare before him, he is actually telling us we need to be totally and completely exposed to him. At first, this seems a little disconcerting to most of us because we are not used to exposing ourselves! We live life kind of "covered up", don't we? In fact, there are even some of us who will even struggle to be totally exposed in the safety and security of our own homes! Why? It brings us to the level of being left without anything to hide behind and that is uncomfortable for some. The hardest lesson for us to learn sometimes is the one of trusting God not to laugh at or mistreat our "nakedness" before him. I don't mean this in a crass sense, but a nakedness of emotions, thought, and even our will. When we are THAT transparent that he can see beyond all our attempts to hide our true feelings, tumultuous thoughts, and battle of the will, this is the place where we can truly begin to heal from those things which make us want to hide in the first place!
Lay yourself bare, face down to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head so you can stand tall. (James 4:10 VOICE)
The toughest times for me to be "laid bare" before God are those times when I know I have done something wrong - the times when confession and healing is necessary in order for me to move on in my life. The same may be true for you, as well. Whatever else we "want to do" in order to avoid the moment of total exposure to him, it won't produce the same effect as when we just "strip bare" before him and let him touch those unraveled emotions shame-ridden feelings of guilt have produced. There is a second set of instruction to us in this passage - lay yourself bare, face down to the ground, in humility to the Lord. It takes us getting "bare" before God in order to recognize our healing, but it also takes us being willing to lay down our pride which keeps us in the cycle of continually "trying harder next time" which we all know doesn't work!
The good news: God doesn't misuse our "nakedness"! If we have ever been truly transparent with someone here on this earth and found they misused our transparency by sharing those confidences with others, we may be a little "shy" in wanting to bare our all before God. It takes time to build trust in any relationship, but the first step to trust is to actually be bare enough to find out if you CAN trust that other person. God's relationship with us begins with trust - we place our trust in the work of his Son on the cross on our behalf. We place our trust in the statement of fact which says all men are sinners and in need of a Savior. We place our trust in the sufficiency of Christ's sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection as that which will restore us into a place of fellowship with God -- unhindered by sin, free of guilt, and with a renewed heart.
If our relationship with him begins with trust, then it stands to reason it will continue to grow as we continue to trust him more and more with all we are - even the not so beautiful areas of our lives we want to keep "under wraps"! It isn't until we "unwrap" a little that we learn he can be trusted with even those things we wanted no one else to ever know about us. You may not be convinced of that yet, but trust me on this one - if you will just take the first step toward baring yourself, laying down just enough of your prideful self to actually be truthful with him about your struggles, he won't trample on those raw emotions! In fact, he will bind them up and make them whole again - beyond whatever mask you and I ever tried to hide them behind in the first place!
Think of being "bare" before God as being "divested" of everything we have been trying to hide behind or do for ourselves, but failing miserably at each step of the way. In essence, we are dismantling all the things we hide behind. We are also discrediting all the things we have used to make ourselves feel better about the things we have hidden behind! This is why it is uncomfortable - we learn our "fixes" never really fixed us! When we come to this place of honesty with God, we can finally be "fixed" - because what was broken can only be bound up by his tender touch, gracious mercy, and compassionate embrace. Just sayin!