Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2003. Empty Promises is Pete’s much anticipated second book. Pete earned his Bachelors degree in Communications from Western Kentucky University and attended seminary at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. He enjoys spending time with Brandi and their 3 boys, hunting, gardening and football.
Like most of you my typical day is usually a blur. Between work, chasing three boys around the house, investing in my marriage, building friendships and trying to stay healthy spiritually and physically, it’s hard to find time to just sit and think.
But I’ve also found that I often use those things as an excuse to not pay attention or examine my own heart.
But sometimes life forces you to pay attention or examine the internal questions you can no longer keep quiet. I had one of those moments recently. I was compelled to come face-to-face with what was lurking at the deepest level of my soul.
These were questions I could no longer ignore:
• Why do I continue to say yes to others, even though I’m overextended and hurting those closest to me?
• Why do I continue to struggle with showing my wife love on a more consistent basis, the way I should?
• Why are my emotions affected more by how many people show up at church than by just being in the presence of our caring God?
• Why do I continue to strive to find my identity in things like acceptance, power, and money instead of in who God says I am?
Each and every question that came to my mind revealed another level of self-deception in my life. It revealed another empty promise I was chasing after.
As I’ve been spending more and more time alone with God, trying to get to the bottom of the empty promises I’ve bought into, I’ve started praying, “God, help me to know me. Help me tear down the scaffolding of power, praise, perfectionism, and performance that I use to prop myself up. Strengthen me so I can bear to be naked and vulnerable in your presence, willing to see the areas of my life where Christ-likeness is so lacking.”
“Willing to see”—that’s crucial. Because most of us are experts at hiding from what we don’t want to know about our own lives.
When my middle son, Gage (on the left in the picture above), was just a toddler, he loved to play hide-and-seek. He especially loved the hiding part, so typically I would have to be “it.” After sticking my face in my hands and counting to twenty, I would search the house for him, announcing out loud each step I took and each place I looked. Whenever I found him hiding behind the couch or underneath the table, he would quickly close his eyes as tightly as he could, convinced that if he couldn’t see me, I wouldn’t be able to see him.
Often we play a similar game with God. In our adult version of hide-and-seek, we hide behind all kinds of noise and distractions. We get up in the morning and turn on the TV, hoping it will distract us from having to think. We’ll get in the car and immediately turn on the radio or jump on the phone. Our days will be full of surface level, meaningless conversations about the weather, styles, or the latest celebrity gossip.
We actually fool ourselves into thinking that if we don’t acknowledge the areas of our lives where we’ve bought into empty promises, maybe God won’t notice them either.
And while self-awareness can be painful, it can also be the beginning of transformation.
I’m praying my book “Empty Promises” will serve as sort of an invitation for you to look deeper into your own life. It’s an opportunity to wake up and look deep into your soul to uncover the layers upon layers of self-deception and the truth that lies beneath them.
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