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Coffin Life is No Life

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. (James Baldwin)

The more we attempt to 'live within' our masks - rather they protect us from things we'd rather not know, or cover over things we already know all too well - those masks aren't really going to do their job very well in the end. Some people use their careers as the 'mask they live within' - useless busywork that seems to really be getting them nowhere in the end. Others will use their humor as the 'mask they live within' - seeing sarcasm and pointing out the foolishness of others as a way of taking the eyes off of themselves. We can become masters of 'living within' our masks if we allow ourselves to escape into those things. Yes, you read that correctly - we 'allow ourselves' to escape the reality of life by 'living within' some mask we have created. That 'masked place' is really a place of hiding and God asks us to rip off the cover, exposing us to the full light of his grace. The 'full light of his grace' - don't miss that - his light doesn't expose to embarrass, but rather to bring into the full arena of grace's touch.

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! (Ephesians 5:11-16)

Love doesn't 'expose' to embarrass, but rather to allow the freedom to be healed, whole, and perfect in the grace of God. Fear places us behind those 'masks' we attempt to 'live within'. Ever try to live perfectly behind a mask? It is almost impossible because there is always something attempting to pull us out of that place of 'artificial comfort' we have created for ourselves. The truth is that our 'artificial comfort' is something that is able to be 'acted upon' in order to bring a level of chaos that will constantly be attempting to disturb that level of comfort we feel within those masks we are attempting to live within. Our comfort is 'acted upon' in attempt to 'steal away' that comfort - creating a place of what becomes a very 'uncomfortable exposure' we neither planned, nor eagerly embrace.

The masks we 'live within' actually become as coffins for us - they securely fasten us in a place where there is a lack of true life. They bury us under what can oftentimes 'cut off our life breath' - so we are isolated, apart from others, under the weight of oppressive feelings and thoughts. The thoughts we are thinking are no longer free to 'live without' the confines of that coffin. God's love actually releases us from the coffin - giving not only life breath again, but the freedom to truly live outside the confines of the mask. Baldwin said it well - we live with a fear that we cannot live without those masks. I believe the moment we choose to be released from the coffin of our chosen self-isolation, God squarely deals with that fear - placing us fully in the place where we can experience fully his love and grace.

We waste a good deal of our lives 'living within the masks' we create to deal with something we fear deeply. The only way for the weight of the 'coffin lid' to be lifted is by the hand of grace - the only way for us to climb out of that coffin is to take hold of that hand. We may never think we can be free of that 'coffin' created by our fears, but we are never free living within that coffin, either! So, what is the harm in trusting God to show us the way out of our fears - the way to live without the mask? Just askin!


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