Courtrooms, Hamster Wheels, and Hospital Beds

May 15, 2024
Back to Articles

After spending many hours with many Christians I began to see a common pattern emerge. Self-professed followers of Jesus were not anywhere close to experiencing Jesus’s promised LIFE. These folks were good people and busy serving the Lord. Yet when I probed them on how they were doing and what impact their faith was having on their interior life the feedback was terrible. Sadly, this described most of the people I met.  

I am always trying to put accurate words to what I experience, what I hear in others, or what I am trying to teach. Words can be powerful. And the right words can do amazing things. So, as I listen to Christian after Christian describe different aspects of the same struggle I tried to put a word or a phrase to their condition.  

The tortured middle. 

The tortured middle became my description for the condition these Christians described. But then I had to experiment to see if this phrase resonated with these folks. “I didn’t know there was a name for what I experience!” reacted one person. “Yes. Absolutely,” said another. One after another clicked after I shared, “You are trapped in a place called the tortured middle.” I didn’t have to explain it, I just said it and they got it.  

Sadly, many, many Christians live in the tortured middle. I have learned to describe this prison as the space between rejecting Jesus, which a Christian is not going to do, and experiencing Jesus’s abundance, which they cannot seem to find. The description has helped TREXO further identify one of our target groups of people. We excel at liberating people from the tortured middle, igniting their faith, and then equipping them to make eternal differences in the lives of others. We ignite in them passion and purpose!  

Recently, I have sought to further clarify the tortured middle. I am working on identifying “sub-groups” in the prison. Kate Powell, who is on TREXO staff, has used these descriptions to great effect in helping women identify exactly where they are and then powerfully liberating them into abundance and onto Kingdom frontlines.  

These designations are still being tweaked. For now, TREXO identifies these six areas in which Christians can be actively bound in the tortured middle. Part of the lie in each of these is that they feel inescapable. Thankfully, in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can absolutely be freed! I was going to describe all six in one blog. However, after working through the first group I thought it would be better to do one a week. Today we will discuss the courtroom. In subsequent weeks we will look at the baby pool, the hospital bed, the hamster wheel, AA baseball, and the snake pit. 

The Courtroom 

The courtroom becomes a sick and twisted prison when we continually battle guilt and shame for things we have done in the past. The dirtiness of our sin feels so dirty that we simply cannot gain freedom. Humiliation, embarrassment, and fear are super powerful emotions that can lock us in the courtroom and keep us from Jesus’s abundance. After all, we truly did reprehensible things.  

Thankfully, we are not alone.   

King David killed an innocent man named Uriah. He murdered Uriah so that he could marry Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, who David leveraged his kingly authority over to have sex. Murder. Compulsory sex. David was a grown man, guilty of these things.  

Now, either David’s story is just legend for you or it is the true story of an actual man who did severely reprehensible things. If his story is just legend you may easily dismiss it. However, if his story is an actual account, then David can provide a roadmap for freedom from the courtroom. You choose.  

If you choose to embrace the truth of David’s story you will see that he could have easily allowed his guilt and shame to dominate his life, controlling the rest of his days. Notice the temptation David faced to remain in the courtroom from a part of his confession in Psalm 51:3, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” He did not need to be reminded of what he did to Uriah and Bathsheba. His sin was ever present. If David gives into his guilt he will be trapped. It will control his life. The temptation is real and powerful.  

However, David knew the power of His Father to forgive was more powerful than his guilt and shame. The nastiness of what David did cannot be minimized but neither can the power of God our Father to forgive and cleanse. In the sequence of David’s story, the LORD sends the prophet Nathan to confront David. After being confronted, David is broken over his sin.  

Watch his words in the opening of his confession from Psalm 51:1-2, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.” See how David appeals to the “greatness” of the LORD’s compassion? David knows the greatness of his own guilt, and it is ever before him. He knows shame and humiliation. He has caused great pain to a man, a woman, and a family. He owns what he did.  

But he also knows the greatness of God’s compassion is far greater.  

You can hear echoes of Psalm 51 in the writing of the Apostle John almost a thousand years later. John writes in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He (your Father) is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Wow. This is the power of Jesus’s blood. This is the truth that our Father’s ability to forgive is deeper and more powerful than the sin you committed, the pain you have caused, and the guilt that you have.  

I love that John adds that our Father will not only forgive us but that He will also cleanse us! Sin feels dirty. Maybe your sin feels like an uncleanable stain. That is a lie. There is no sin stain, save blaspheming the Holy Spirit, that the blood of Jesus cannot cleanse. None. 

Whatever you have done does not have to define your life. Whatever you have done does not have to control you. Whatever you have done does not have to bind you in the courtroom away from Jesus’s abundance.  

The Apostle Paul experienced the depth of our Father’s forgiving and cleansing and then he wrote 1 Timothy 1:15-16,  

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”  

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit in the will of our Father, walks into the courtroom of your story. He sees you accused, guilty. The judge’s gavel keeps slamming. The judge keeps declaring, “GUILTY!” Jesus walks to you, takes you by the hand, and stands you up. When the judge sees you take Jesus’s hand and stand with Him, he is silenced.  

Jesus leads you out of the courtroom. As soon as you cross the threshold of the courtroom door you are delivered into green pastures, you are besides quiet waters.  

This is the mercy of our Father. This is the payment of Jesus. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.  

And this is life in the OVERFLOW.  

More Articles