Denial – it’s a river in Egypt.
Yup, heard that one a million times. And we all laugh when we hear it – probably as a way to hide the fact that most of us have traveled that “river” at one time or the other in our lives. Sadly, however, some folks get stuck in the middle of the river and are not able to make it to shore before going through the rapids and crashing on the rocks. And even worse, they often have other innocent people in the boat with them.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind.”
It is unbelievable how much we are capable of seeing yet say it is not there; of touching but insisting it does not exist. Just ask King David. In 2 Samuel 11 is the travelogue of David’s journey with Bathsheba down the river Denial. He had become so callous to his own sin that he could not see it. Even when the prophet Nathan confronts him in 2 Samuel 12 it is not until Nathan emphatically says, “You are the man!” that David is shocked into reality. Regrettably, many innocent people suffered with him.
This week I have interacted with four people who know about the river Denial. One is in the process of trying to put the pieces back together after the big reality crash a few weeks ago. Two others just hit the rocks this week and there are pieces everywhere. And one continues to float down the river.
It is ironic how those caught in the torrent stream of denial respond when some caring person tries to point out the danger of being in the fast moving current. “I am okay. Everything is fine. I’m not in any danger. I’ve got it all under control.” Makes me think of 1 John 1:8: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Very often the Lord uses people, like Nathan for David, to point out the dangerous deception in our lives and to try to steer us out of denial.
The apostle Paul instructs, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” (Galatians 6:1) Not everything that someone points out to us will be about sin – it may simply be something we are doing that is ill-advised, detrimental or unknowingly hurtful to others. Perhaps the lesson for this week is this: If someone calmly tries to point out a dangerous path in your life, at least listen to them. It may well serve to rescue you and those you love who are in the boat with you.