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Keeping it Real

joker-with-5-points-“For so long I thought I had to have it all together.” Dave Dravecky, former pitcher for the Giants who lost an arm and shoulder to cancer, spoke at Twin Lakes Church this weekend. “After all, Christians don’t get depressed and discouraged. I wore a mask.” While that’s not an exact quote, that’s the message I heard.

I too used to wear a mask. As a college student, I thought it was my job to be “God’s happiest person.” My older brothers kept telling me to quit smiling at strangers, that it wasn’t safe. Admittedly, I was more than a little naive.

Beautiful, but not authentic

Beautiful, but not authentic

But sometimes, like Dravecky and me, we get the message confused. We think that as Jesus followers we’re supposed to act, look, speak a certain way. That we need to show others’ God’s love and grace through our strength.

But we’ve gotten it all wrong. Jesus said “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Dravecky said his eyes were opened when he read a piece by Joni Earickson Tada, who became a quadriplegic at age 17. She said her diving accident and resultant paralysis were not a blessing. “It sucks.” BUT God has brought good from it as she has shared the hope she found in Christ through the pain and loss of that event.

Dave said the same. “Cancer sucks. Losing an arm and shoulder sucks.” And he’s become more authentic in sharing God’s presence on the journey, despite its difficulties and challenges.

That’s been significant in my life too. There have been events that have been agony–leaving a ministry that had been my home, being misunderstood and judged; and losing a husband to death.

Dravecky said we all have good, bad and ugly in us. Certainly true in me. It is as I keep it real and share, not only the struggles but God’s presence, forgiveness and grace in and through them, that others can hear God’s strength rather than being blinded by my mask. And as I am open about some of the pain, challenges, and failures of my life, that others are more open to telling me their burdens. As I listen to their pain, I can also express where I have found hope–not hope for ease, but hope that in all things, God has promised to walk with me, never to leave me or forsake me, and that He has a plan for my life “for good, and not for evil, to give you (me) hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
removing the mask

Proverbs 28:13 says “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (NIV)

What masks do you need to remove in order to gain freedom? It’s “Reveal time.”


  1. Karen O'Connor says:

    Thanks for the summary, Carol. I was away for this sermon but I heard Dave’s testimony on another occasion and it was very powerful. The mask I had to remove years ago was the illusion that I had a happy and healthy marriage when the opposite was true. But the end of that relationship helped me to open my heart to Jesus and to become totally dependent on him, which prepared me for the loss of my second husband to cancer. Now I know from experience that Jesus is truly the way, the truth, and the life.

    1. carolnl says:

      Thanks, Karen, for your testimony of God’s grace as you removed your mask.

  2. Sue Swain says:

    Excellent message, Carol!!!! Can I have a copy to send out to my bible study? Love the illustrations too……..the masks.

  3. Sue Swain says:

    But I have to add here, that you are one of the most real, honest, sincere people I know. I love this about you.

    1. carolnl says:

      That’s very precious to me Sue. Thank you. You, too, are an authentic person and I treasure our friendship.

  4. Rebecca Krusee says:

    Thanks Carol for sharing with us! I too listen intently to Dave’s message. His transparency really struck me.

    1. carolnl says:

      Thank you Rebecca. Hope to see you tomorrow evening.

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