Don’t box me in! Has anyone ever said this to you? Have you ever felt like someone has put a “Keep Out” sign up over their heart? Lonely marriages feel like this.
Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, shared with a group of us ladies that during a very low part of her life journey, her counselor, Richard Dobbins, said, “Anne, Satan builds his fortress in the secrets of our lives.” How true this is.
Another friend told me how out of desperation she was going to see a counselor to find out if he could guide her through what she was experiencing in her marriage; she knew something was wrong, but could not put her finger on it. After listening to her, the counselor said, “Your husband has a secret.” After absorbing the shock and simplicity of his answer, she realized this was the problem. It turns out her husband had been sinfully involved with a different women at each of the churches he pastored. Today they have a healed and rebuilt marriage because the secret was revealed, he surrendered and chose to get ongoing biblically-based counseling and accountability. He repented and asked God to change his idolatrous heart; and God did as he walked out the parts he needed to.
Perhaps you can recall a discussion that headed into a deeper level of emotion or intimacy, one requiring openness and trust, and the other person was unwilling to talk. Most all of us have experienced this in one way or another. A boxed up heart causes marriages to fail, parent-child relationships to grow distant, and destruction in the home because the heart is locked up over some past offense, current sin, or issue in the heart.
Certainly love is the governing foundation to good relationship and must precede questions that deal with heart matters. If we attempt to share our heart with someone and we receive a poor response in return, we shouldn’t just walk away offended, but rather realize there is a work God wants to do in this situation. Pray, seek God for guidance, and attend to the scriptural mandate to speak the truth in love. This IS a demonstration of love for them.
A push-back response is not uncommon from someone who does not want you to go near something they have carefully guarded, often for years, in their heart. That secret place contains chambers of pain, an overwhelming past, incidents of wounding, and resulting sin. It can lay dormant through periods of life; barriers have been constructed to protect these spots. Manipulative behaviors become well defined and careful avoidance is used to protect. So when someone, knowingly or not, comes along and probes the heart through conversation, reaction occurs. A rush of emotions fills the chamber and the fear of disruption, of being exposed, causes this reaction. The response is used to remove the threat. Whoever the source, they certainly will face the backlash of self-protection; anger, accusation — something to cause the intruder to shut-up or go away.
Does this describe your relationship with someone, or several people? It’s painful on both sides; who really wants to endure this continued pain? But it will continue until someone decides to take steps to deal with the issues of the heart.
How much better to surrender the “box” to God and allow Him to tenderly deal with each item inside. Truly, it’s not an easy road. Problems protected and hidden, compound over time; give it 20 or 30 years and it seems an impossibility to deal with – but it can be done over time. God is waiting for you.
Loss: Counting the cost
So what’s the alternative to dealing with the secret chambers? Losing everyone you hoped to love; and facing isolation and loneliness, not by desire, but by consequence. Yes, some will squeak through an unfulfilled life, living it out in meager existence. But they will never experience the joy God intended because true love and joy involves giving. Someone with a bound heart cannot give. And the price is enormous, not only for the isolated one, but for those touched by their self-centeredness.
Is there Hope? Yes, with God there is. He knows about everything in the box. But you must decide to trust Him and the people He will use. He desires to help you take each lousy piece of garbage out of that box and deal with it. “How, you say, “can anything good come from dredging through this?” With God, a miracle can occur when someone decides to deal with the box inside. When we face ourselves, the sins committed by us or against us, and humbly cry out to God like David did: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!” — Now God can work! He has the power to free us from this prison inside. That is the reason He sent Jesus – to save us from sin. Trust Him. The release of the captive soul is God’s doing. Satan hates it because he hates you; he’s out to steal all you have, kill you, and destroy you for eternity in Hell (John 10:10). God, our Creator, is waiting to transform you, to give you abundant life in Him; He is doing this everyday for the willing heart!
Do you know that God wants relationship with you? Yes, you are His precious creation and He wants fellowship with you. But what keeps that from happening? A lack of trust, misunderstanding about His great love for you, self-idols on the throne? Any number of reasons can cause someone to feel unable to come to God the Father. If you will seek Him and trust Him, He will reveal Himself to you. He is waiting for you.
Resource: Further and much deeper insights into the captivity and release of the soul can be seen in listening to this 73 minute testimony of Paul Young, a man who describes the “shack” inside his heart. It is a powerful illustration of how God reached in and healed his very troubled heart. Paul came to the end of himself (the ravine; 51 min.) and was delivered.
God places people around us who love and care for us to help walk through this. In Paul Young’s life his wife, Kim, was one of the people God used. Even though she went through her own anger and frustration as to why this happened, she decided to persevere for their children’s sake, and finally saw the reward of her endurance. Another person God used was a counselor, Scott Mitchell (55 min); he guided Paul through the difficult task of looking at what was in his heart, his shack. Paul took 11 years to journey to freedom, and the abundant grace he received, so delivered him that God was then able to use his testimony to free many others. Paul attributes God’s grace, and his wife Kim, and her diligence to holding him accountable, for his life being spared.
Footnotes: Ephesians 4:15 (ESV) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Psalms 38:8 (ESV) I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. Psalms 25:16-18 (ESV) 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. 18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.  Psalms 44:21 (ESV) would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.  Proverbs 3:5 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  Psalms 13:5 (ESV) But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  II Thes. 3:13 (ESV) Do not grow weary in doing good.
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The Bait of Satan contains sound biblical teaching by John Bevere on how to become free of offense. The teaching helps us look at the condition of our hearts, our expectations, dealing with wrong thinking, and pursuing oneness. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalms 119:165 (KJV)