Excerpt taken from Thad's first book, "Real Identity" (pg 21)
Here I stand. At the crossing.
Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so hard to find. That what we see on the outside is what’s real on the inside. Just that simple. But too often the chasm between the two is huge.
And I forget about the crossing, where the outside and inside meet.
Sam taught me that years ago. He was the perfect testimony. He came to faith in Christ through the witness of Christian men in our church. And Sam jumped in—Bible studies, home group, ministries in the church and our local community. He gave time, which in his profession he had little of. He gave money to the church and beyond . . . way beyond.
Because he cared for the needy. It hurt him to see people suffering. Off he went on mission trips to remote parts of the world, wanting to help, needing to serve, having a big heart.
His name came up to serve in church leadership. Who could be better? He met all the criteria: strong in belief, in conduct, in service, in leadership.
Until the testing came, and it came hard. By the time we heard about it, it was too late. He’d left his job, left his wife, left his teenage kids, left his church family. Sam was gone. The guys closest to him at church pursued him. They still do, even to this day so many years later.
Some said it was an affair. Others said something big happened at work. Was he caught doing drugs? Smuggling money? A cover-up of some kind? It almost doesn’t matter. Whatever it was, it was big enough to expose his heart.
And that’s what testing does.
In the parable of the sower, the seed of God’s Word has to land in the heart—the good soil. If not, when testing comes, we fall away (Mark 4:17).
In the same way, the foundation has to be on rock, not sand. So when the storm comes, we stand strong. Unshaken (Matt. 7:25).
Jesus taught us this. The world is full of trial and trouble. What matters is that we’re ready for it—that what He has done in us is real. To the heart. And what He will do for us is see us through the storm. He will give us what we need to endure. To persevere.
That’s His promise (John 16:33).
James said it. All we have to do is ask. In the midst of the mess of this world, we ask the Lord “who gives to all generously and without reproach,” and He gives us the wisdom we need in the moment (James 1:5). As long as we ask in faith. And from faith.
Because our faith is real. He has penetrated our hearts. But that’s the problem, isn’t it?
Sam looked so real. He said the right words. He did the right things. He leapt beyond himself for the sake of others. He wept at the reading of Scripture. He showed us what it means to have a passion for the things of God. He testified in- and outside church. He looked so real.
None of us dreamed that he lived in two worlds. One on the outside. One on the inside. And the one on the inside was so dark and secretive, controlled and well-protected, that none of us saw it coming. A big storm. Bigger than him. Exposing him. Tearing his two worlds apart.
Double-minded, that’s what James called it (James 1:8). A word meaning “two-souled,” it’s deeper than being two-faced—hypocrites with an image on the outside that betrays the heart on the inside.
It goes to the breaking of the soul. As if, deep in our core, we can be two.
And we can’t. Not before God. Never, never can we serve two masters and get away with it (Matt. 6:24). No matter how in control we think we are.
Because storms come. Storms expose.
Sam became exactly what James said: “Like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). The storm hit and he was gone. His wife, teenage kids, and church family bereft without him. His kids ached for their dad. One of them wondered if being a Christian was really even worth it.
He taught me to stand at the crossing.
He taught me that it’s not enough, as a Christian leader, to help people believe in Jesus Christ, know the Bible, learn to pray, belong to the church, grow in service and ministry, give from our resources, and serve the poor, the needy, the voiceless.
All of it can be done and the heart never touched. The gospel never real. The salvation given us in Jesus Christ never known in the depths of who we are. Outward Christians: right words, right deeds, playing games, two-souled.
So I make myself stand at the crossing.
Between the outside and the inside. And I beg the Lord to have mercy on us. To help us cross. So that Jesus Christ is real to our hearts, in the depths of our souls, before the storms come.
So we’re not like Sam—disciples on the wrong foundation, rooted in the wrong soil, double-minded, two-souled, rudderless at the time of testing. But just the opposite. We know Him. He knows us.
We’ve made the crossing. We’ve found real.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION*
Can you talk about what it’s like to stand at the crossing between the image we project and who we really are? Is Jesus Christ real for you? Is He the foundation on which your life is built?