Today's post was inspired by two of "my girls" who are on staff with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. This past month they had an outreach on San Diego's college campuses called "No Secrets." The Intervarsity staff and student volunteers invited the students on their campus to share their secrets anonymously, writing them on Post-Its and sticking them on a wall for everyone to see. Hundreds of young people responded. And at the end of the week, students were invited to hear the good news of Jesus' victory over sin and shame, praying for them and sharing the forgiveness and freedom Jesus offers. Many students responded to this invitation.

I read dozens of the secrets written by the college students who attend two of our largest campuses. My heart broke for these young adults and the pain they carry in their hearts. It reminded me of times, sitting in a coffee shop or at a restaurant or on a park bench or on a living room sofa, when a woman has said to me, "I have never told anyone this." Silently praying, I have heard the heartbreaking secrets of women who wrestle with the burden, guilt, and shame of abuse, abortion, addictions, fears, depression and so many other issues. I have spent hours listening and sharing, sorting through what is truth and what are lies, and crying and praying together for Jesus to heal and restore what was lost, broken, stolen or compromised. 

One of my favorite stories of God's amazing power to forgive, heal and restore happened years ago at a women's retreat. A young lady asked if she could speak to me. We found a park bench and sat together in the cool shade of pine trees. "I've never told this to anyone except my husband," she started, "but this weekend God told me I needed to share it with someone." She went on to confess her deep, dark secret of becoming a pregnant teenager and the abortion that followed. She cried with painful regret and sorrow. We talked and prayed together. Then, she shared with me how God revealed to her that if she would confess her secret that He would turn it from a "cancer" eating her up inside to a ministry to help others. And God did!  Confessing her secret and bringing it into the light of God's forgiveness, healing and love set this woman free to be a crisis counselor to help other women facing an unexpected pregnancy and contemplating abortion.

Again and again, I have seen that a kept secret has power to keep a person locked in a prison of isolation, guilt, shame, loneliness and fear. But a secret confessed and surrendered into the loving hands of God can set a person free to heal, to grow and to reach out to others. I wonder do you have a secret? I encourage you to bring it to Jesus with a faithful friend you can trust. Or perhaps, are you the faithful friend who can hear the dark secret and help bring it into the light of God's forgiveness, love and healing touch.

I understand all secrets are not sin! Many secrets are the sins committed against us or the guilt and shame about things that are out of our control. However, whatever the source of a secret the truth is still the same: "confession is good for the soul." James 5:16-17 says it best, Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. (The message)