Out of Exile: Day Four – Being Laid Bare

I’m pleased at the traction this new series is getting. Thanks for joining the journey and inviting others along.

I’m amazed at how many ex-pastors are still wandering in the wilderness, wondering what happened to them and how to get their lives back. I hope I can offer some help in that. I also want to help the pastor still in ministry who has experienced a major setback or two.

Someone has said that only 10% of pastors finish their career in ministry. Somewhere along the way most of them drop out, burn out, or get kicked out. I’m hoping to increase the number of pastors that finish strong. 

Exile is a metaphor for what God wants to do in his people. He uses exile to expose our true heart. He lays us bare.

If you are in exile today, I want to help you find your way out. But to find the way out requires letting exile do its full work in you first. Let me explain what I mean.

When God sent his people to Babylon in exile he spoke to the prophet Ezekiel:

…son of man, pack your bags to prepare yourself for exile and go into exile  (galah)Ezekiel 12:3

The Hebrew word for “go into exile” is “galah”. It also means to “expose, lay bare, uncover, reveal, be stripped.”  Here’s another verse using “galah” but the word is translated “laid bare:”

I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare (galah). Ezekiel 13:14

So exile isn’t just a physical experience. Exile is a metaphor for what God wants to do in his people. He uses exile to expose our true heart. He lays us bare, very much like this verse relates: he tears down everything false in us to expose our foundation. God allows hard times to reveal who we really are.  He’s not out to shame us. He wants to purify us by bringing the impurities to the surface and removing them.

Exile reveals our dark side. (It can also reveal our good side). It has the unique ability to reveal things hidden deep within us that can’t be found in good times. In order to move on from exile we need to embrace the experience and let it do its full work. The more we resist it the longer we stay in exile.

Think of it as spiritual surgery. The best thing you can do is lie still and let the surgeon do her work. Only then can the surgery be completed and you are allowed to move to the recovery room.

Let me ask you this: what has exile revealed in your heart?

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7 thoughts on “Out of Exile: Day Four – Being Laid Bare

  1. Lisa

    After what seemed to be the most painful part of the experience for me, I had to start all over with forgiveness. I had to learn what one-sided, two-sided, and failed reconciliation was made of. Separating trust from forgiveness from respect was an important process. I had to learn the right response to injustices and suffering. How to dodge spear-throwing brethren, I delved into any thorough study of grace, love and RESPECT. I learned I had a lot room to grow in those areas-still am. Then there was learning to be a good steward of my loneliness- I really dissected the elements and anatomy of what happens to a wife before she goes wayward. I also learned that temptation was not a sin, but how I responded to it was very important. I had never fasted before but for a whole year I learned about this discipline by practicing it. 40 day , 21 day, 10 day and 3 days and combined it with praying/ journaling. (On a funny note, my dentist was a little concerned because many of old silver fillings starting cracking and falling out after that heavy fasting. I have less mercury in my head now) Uprooting the bitterness and moving on to the “better” Christian living was the main challenge. But the most important aspect of the journey was intimacy with the Lord Jesus and cultivating a joy in our relationship ..returning to my first love was absolutely transforming. There is so much more….but being concise, I have learned, is better. 🙂

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Forgiveness has a lot to do with getting out of exile. My book STUCK is all about that. “Stuck” is another way to say “exile.” I’ll being sharing some of it in this journey.

      Thanks for being concise. I know you have a lot to share. But I purposely spread this content out over 40 days so people like you can share bits and pieces of their story. Keep coming back and sharing new insights you gained in exile. I don’t see my posts as the center of insight but merely a springboard to attract the insight of others.

      1. Lisa

        The way I found your fb page was randomly scrolling through posts on People of the Second Chance. The timing of your content was providential and helpful. I’ve been following your posts for about a year now. I saw the discussion from both Healing the Hurts and Stuck. Another book that was helpful to me was “When You’ve Been Wronged -Moving from Bitterness to Forgiveness” By Erwin W. Lutzer. I’m enjoying breaking down the the exile in chunks in your 40 day approach. You ask good questions and I appreciate your feedback.

  2. Anonymous

    Remy, good stuff and very much needed among burned out pastors. I have gone through a few “exiles”. The first was most painful and blew me apart. I managed to come back after that, with a big scar. The second and third were sort of rolled together. I left the denomination I had been in for 17 years with plans to enter another. After several months that fell through as we realized we would be planting another church. I ended up in another denomination and now function as the dean of a cathedral. I’ve been working on revitalizing the parish. All this to say that I can identify with the theme and know that those feelings of exile come and go. Thanks. Ps. I don;t think a lot of pastors like to dwell on their exile, it is bitter, and without help can leave them feeling like total failures.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      I agree…people don’t like talking about his but they need to. I’m hoping to get people to pull back their bandages and look at their wounds. We like to think these things will heal on their own over time. No, they just breed resentment which makes you sour, which either makes you a miserable minister and/or makes you quit…or at least WANT to quit. Thanks for jumping in with some of your story. I hope you will continue to check in along the way.

  3. Christopher MacDonald

    I relate to Lisa’s post a lot in my earliest “exile”. I couldn’t move until I forgave. Then I did serve as College Minister from 92-93..then I suddenly retired as a young man.

    I went into self-imposed exile 20 years ago because I saw I was becoming more and more dependent on alcohol. I had no idea why…I was utterly confused by it. It seemed incongruous. But I felt that being led by the Holy Spirit and being filled with wine were at obvious cross purposes and St. Paul had been clear on simple requirements for leadership…and not to be judgmental at all.

    I assumed it was a moral defect and that I just had a besetting sin I could not control. During the following two decades I was often a part of a thriving congregation and close with the pastor. We would try every program and remedy (and I mean EVERY…I have even gone through radical aversion therapy…which is NOT pretty) and I would fail and retreat not just to self-medication but also to being a recluse (it’s how I became a good writer).

    In 2010 I was diagnosed Bi-polar 2, and in 2012 we finally hit on the right combination of two medications which balance my brain with few, if any, side effects. I have no need or desire whatsoever for alcohol and the true nature of its “use” for over two decades has been revealed as medication for a mental illness.

    That I did not see coming. 20 years of the most awful battles and every means possible followed by constant failures and humiliations (including homelessness) of the worst varieties only to have it all vanish a year ago by taking two pills daily.

    “Think of it as spiritual surgery. The best thing you can do is lie still and let the surgeon do her work. Only then can the surgery be completed and you are allowed to move to the recovery room.”

    I can think of no finer words for my experience of the last two decades. Jesus has been so good to me…and close, intimate. Through all the vain attempts to move me to “recovery” Jesus was always with me. That is what I needed most.

    I relate to Lisa in this. I have been alone a lot from people, but not from God.

    Now I am free to be with people again as I do not drink and had no other addictions. I have no preoccupations, political agendas or other axes to grind. I’ve always had a fine theological mind, and I did spend the last twenty years writing. I just never sent any of it out to be published. That is what this next year is about I think. I would like to finish “well” the next 20-25 years to quote Remy.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Such an amazing story about your addiction and bi-polar treatment. I’m glad you can see God’s mercy in your journey vs. complaining about the “lost” years. I’m convinced (in contrast to what our culture says) that our laster years can be our best as we live out all that we’ve gained in the previous years. It sounds like you have a lot to share with people. Start blogging…get your story out. Other exiles need to hear about your travels.

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