In the summer of 1975, Tim and I left our two-year-old daughter, Kelly with her aunt and we went away to Atlanta to attend an Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts seminar. For seven days, we joined a crowd that filled nearly every one of the 16,000 seats of the Omni Coliseum. We took notes in our red binder and listened intently to all Bill Gothard had to say.
Yesterday, I flipped back through that binder to refresh my memory of those principles.
And yes, many of them were pretty basic:
• A person’s attitude toward himself has a profound influence on his attitude toward God, his family, and his friends.
• A clear conscience is listed in scripture as one of our most essential weapons.
• Freedom is not the right to do what we want but the power to do what we ought.
I wasn’t surprised this week when, due to allegations of inappropriate behavior with young women, Bill Gothard was removed from the organization he founded . For years there’d been numerous allegations. But I am surprised by how many people blindly followed him.
Now, I believe Bill Gothard started out with the right intentions. Nobody plans to build an empire in order to watch it tumble. But power is a drug. And given too much of it, we become addicts. And I think that’s what happened.
As a parent, I would have done just about anything to guarantee my children would grow up free of my dysfunction. If following a neat set of steps could help them not become self-saboteurs, I would have followed them religiously. And at times, I did believe it possible to rear them free of making their own mistakes. But attempting to pull that off, sadly did them more harm than good.
But brokenness is the only way to come to Jesus. And if we never fully understand how messed up we really are, we’ll never understand the cross. And no matter how well we behave, or how good we are at following a set of rules, sin is always lurking around the corner.
I can mask my indiscretions by not committing the obvious sins like cussing or adultery. But my sin is always there. And it’s the subtle ones that trip me up the most. My pride and self-righteousness are usually the ones that launch me away from grace. The ones that lead me into judgment of myself and others.
I long to live a sinless life. But my only hope lies in pouring myself out daily to the only God capable of taking away those sins. The only one who paid the price to allow me to boldly walk into his presence as ask for forgiveness. And to that I say, “Amen!”