When You Get Over Yourself, Repent of Hypocrisy, and Give God Room

by | May 22, 2013 | Uncategorized

When almost six thousand people from 88 different countries, representing a myriad of faith backgrounds gather in one place to worship the same Jesus you know and love, you can’t help but be changed by it. And realize that your perspective is quite small.

I stood on the concrete floor of the Royal Albert Hall, five rows from the stage, turning slowly like the ballerina on a child’s jewelry box taking it all in. Next to a folded seat draped with my damp trench coat, I watched people file into four stories of seats from the crowded city streets of London. Willing my mind to record it like a video camera of remembrance.

God’s presence was palpable.

Back home, I’d been so absorbed in finding time to write, connecting with people online and worrying about my children’s future, that I missed seeing Jesus’ perspective on the world. He was giving me a binocular view of unity and the way he loves mankind from the diversity of the Body of Christ.

But more than that, I realized I was avoiding the uncomfortable truth that sin has left an ugly indelible mark on the world. Not intentional avoidance, but one slow drive around my well-manicured neighborhood, one click on the garage door of my comfort zone at a time.

He’s longing for us to be carriers of Hope to a world living with the absence of hope. And there isn’t just one way to do that.

I stood up during a break and asked the woman seated in front of me if she needed prayer. She nodded to the affirmative, so I prayed for what she requested: more of the Holy Spirit’s power in her life. The sky didn’t crack open and she didn’t leap over seats, but we felt the presence of God as we bowed our heads to humbly ask.

The next day I stepped away from my seat, walked around a galley of people to the row behind me and prayed for a woman who stood in response to the need for healing in her neck. The muscles so tight she couldn’t move her head around while driving to see if the road was clear to pass. A young woman and I prayed over her together and after a few moments, she could move her neck without pain.




Last weekend, I sat in a different kind of theater with my family, waiting for the new Star Trek movie to appear on the screen. As the lights dimmed, the putrid smell of alcohol and cigarettes permeated the air around us. H leaned over and remarked that the person behind us was so inebriated that the smell was leaking from his pores.

I thought about moving to another seat.

I thought about how I don’t like going to the theater anymore. I prefer watching movies on my couch with a blanket draped over me; eating popcorn from my own bowl, instead of a cardboard box.

I thought about how uncomfortable the seats are, how I have to swing my legs over to the left or right because the person in front of me leans too far back in their swanky theater seat, invading my personal space.

I thought about how loud the plastic wrapping sounds on the candy people were opening behind me, how when you are drunk you aren’t considering other people.

And then suddenly, I thought about how I sat crumpled up in the Royal Albert Hall just a few days ago, seated around people I didn’t know, listening to Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury say, “The key moment for Christians is when we realize what Christ did for us, not what we do for Him.”

So I repented of my hypocrisy and prayed for the person behind me as I watched Klingons threaten someone’s life from the Enterprise.  He didn’t stand up and ask for prayer but I boldly asked the Lord to heal him. Deliver him of his addiction and let him know he is loved in a tangible way.

We are carriers of hope. There is more than one way to deliver it.  More than one way that He’ll remind us of why we are here. God isn’t limited by venue, language barriers, cultural differences, faith backgrounds or our sin when it comes to showing His endless love and transforming power to mankind.

It is not what we do for God, but what He does for us that changes everything.


Linking with Jennifer for Tell His Story.


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  1. kelli woodford

    oh! the stories from your trip come leaking out one by one! 🙂

    i love how you let the dichotomy mold you, Shelly, how you let the juxtaposition of your dual experiences widen your mercies.

    i want to live like that.

    • Shelly Miller

      I have a feeling that you do Kelli, more than you realize.

      I have enough stories to keep me busy for at least a month from that trip. Can’t wait to share them.

  2. Jody Collins

    Shelly, there is nothing in this post that doesn’t make me say, ‘wow, I’ve been there, lived that…’ (double negative there–sorry.) How Jesus longs to get His message to the world through us. thanks for being so vulnerable.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m glad you can relate Jody. Thanks for always being there for me, appreciate you friend.

  3. Laura Lynn Brown

    “Tell me what you think,” you said elsewhere. I’ll tell you here.

    I think it is good for us to be humbled, and that we all have a Pharisee gene or two within us, and seeing a sister confess to that generally makes me feel closer to her, and more likely to feel safe confessing my own hypocrisy to her, should the opportunity arise.

    I think the world may be held together in part by invisible prayers, and it is good to be reminded that we can pray for anyone on the spot without ever telling them (or anyone) about it. And while I have never had an alcohol problem, it makes me grateful for the times I may have been — surely was — the one silently prayed for. That, too, is humbling.

    I think my favorite paragraph here is “I thought about how uncomfortable the seats are, how I have to swing my legs over to the left or right because the person in front of me leans too far back in their swanky theater seat, invading my personal space.” Why? Because it is a compelling metaphor. We’ve all felt in theaters the exact discomfort you describe (in fact, I pictured a particular seating section of a particular screening room in my favorite local movie house). But you’re not just (or even primarily) writing about the theater. Being salt and light in the world means letting people into my personal space, and being let into theirs. It means seeing and considering others, especially others who seem temporarily unable to see any but themselves. Which is, I think, how Jesus sometimes, lovingly, sees us.

    I think you made me think. Thanks.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes! Love the way you processed this here Laura, what a gift. And your thoughts make me think even more about this post. I’m in a season of God pushing into my personal space in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable but I know I need to embrace it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Kelly Greer

    Shelly- that must have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience! How moving! I had a moment similar to yours in the movie theatre, only I was in a jail visiting on a phone line with plexiglas and cinder blocks. A woman was next to us cussing at her little boy as he ran around, really berating him, and yelling and yelling. I couldn’t hear or even think. Our visits were only 45 minutes and we would have to split the time, so they were precious moments. I got so mad, I almost went off on that woman, and just as I was about to lose it, boom, Jesus’ love and mercy and gracefulness was like a wave over me….and I sensed him urging me to consider this poor woman. Her loved one is behind bars, her life has been turned upside down. She probably doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from or how they will pay the rent. If she got a job, who would watch the boy? Who knows if she even has bus fare to get home. I was so ashamed of my self-righteous self. I nearly bawled my eyes out right there. My anger turned to love in a moment and I know it was only because of the Holy Spirit in me. I could have never controlled myself like that. It was so touching that Jesus cared enough about us both to humble me and love her. We saw her and her son coming and going from the jail many times after that, and even though she never stopped cussing at that dirty little boy, we loved him, we loved her, with our words and our eyes and our smiles – with the love of Christ all because we had been loved by Him ourselves when we were just as ugly. It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

    • Shelly Miller

      What you said at the end really sums it up for me Kelly, that He loves us when we are ugly and that is a beautiful thing. Yes and amen.

      Love this story you shared. So grateful you included it in your comment. Glad to know I’m in good company too.

      • Kelly Greer

        Yes , Shelly – sorry I was so wordy! I don’t know what came over me 😉

        • Shelly Miller

          No need to apologize, we don’t have a cap on words in the comments. 😉 I loved every word.

        • Lynn Morrissey

          Kelly, I was so touched by all you said here, b/c I know your true heart of compassion. God is so using you. Have you ever read Carol Kent’s book, When I Lay My Isaac Down about her son JP, who is incarcerated (yet doing a mighty work for the Lord)? Maybe we’ve talked about it, but Carol has an incredible minsitry.

          • Kelly Greer

            Yes Lynni and her book The New Normal. She blessed me with her story when I really needed some more hope in our situation.

  5. Amanda Johnston Hill

    Great perspective, and example of own own comfort invading God’s purpose for our lives (when did God promise comfort, exactly?). Thanks for being you. Love you big.

    • Shelly Miller

      Never. As a matter of fact, He said the opposite. We’ll have trouble in this world but . . .that is the key word. There is always a but, a redemption at the end of our struggles and uncomfortable places. For that I’m thankful. Lovely to see you here Amanda.

  6. Mia

    Dear Shelly
    Oh, this is sooo true! It is what Jesus had done for us and still do everyday in and through us!
    Blessings to you

  7. HisFireFly

    whatever we do for the least of these, He taught us. we take turns being the healed and the healer, becoming the “least of these” to someone else, and touching the “least of these” around us…
    this was bold and brave and needed – thank you!

  8. ro elliott

    I get this….I am right there with you….letting God give me new vision….a seriously need some laszik surgery ….so thankful I trust my physician 🙂

  9. Lynn Morrissey

    THe jolting
    juxtaposition in this post is staggering. I know I have done this–be totally
    accepting on the one hand, and hypercritical on the other. My attitude pertains
    to my mood and perspective, rather than showing that love that Jesus did. In
    the end, I thiink Jesus just wants me to encounter others from a perspective of
    humility and compassion. It may be cliche, but it’s powerful: We need to walk
    in someone else’s shoes. We never know why someone goes the way he does (such
    as with the alcoholic. There is a story behind every stain on our character.
    And alcoholism happens to be one of mine….story and stain. This is a
    meaningful post, Shelly, and I thank you for your vulnerability in writing it.



    • Shelly Miller

      I love what you said here . . . that Jesus wants us to encounter others from a perspective of humility and compassion. I think its why suffering is needed but not talked about too often.

  10. DeanneMoore

    I am sitting with this for a bit because I think there is a deep truth in these words—“We are carriers of hope. There is more than one way to deliver it. More than one way that He’ll remind us of why we are here.” It is a mystery to me but one I want to embrace. Because it’s never all neat and tidy and comfortable is it? And if it was all those things, I wonder what would become of me…I don’t think I would be much use in the kingdom of God.

    • Shelly Miller

      No, its never neat and tidy and comfortable. Darn it!

  11. Mary Bonner

    “It is not what we do for God, but what He does for us that changes everything.” Shelly, this is truly an amazing and thought provoking post…thank you. Thank you for making me think.

    • Shelly Miller

      Glad you are here Mary.

  12. Celeste

    Good reminder Shelly

  13. Emily Wierenga

    girl? he is teaching you and me the same lessons. i’m sensing theme here. i’m sensing the Holy Spirit doing something big. xo

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too Emily, me too.

  14. Elizabeth Stewart

    Wow, I needed to read this. Catching up on my posts here and being touched and convicted by God’s Spirit through your words.

  15. Ashley Tolins Larkin

    Oh, Shelly. So good. Thank you for looking hypocrisy straight in the eye and speaking it out. Thank you for this truth vision.

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s hard to admit when you are a hypocrite. And ugly. Thankful it spoke to you. Love seeing you here in my comment box Ashley.

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