Ever had one of those times when you wanted to crawl into a hole? Yep, me too. Just the other day, for example…..
We recently started having some maintenance done on our house. It wasn’t a surprise – I knew it was coming. We’d been anxious to get the work done. Hubby signed a contract. Brian the foreman called and gave us the start date and time. The porta-potty appeared in our driveway. ALL the signs were there.
So you’d think I’d be ready, wouldn’t you? But NO……
When Brian rang our doorbell that first morning and came into the house, was I fully dressed and ready to meet him? Nope – I’d been doing my normal “non-morning-person routine” – procrastinating, having one last cup of coffee, dragging my feet.
So I did what came naturally – made a panic-stricken dash for the bathroom, where I sat in darkness waiting for him to leave. I kid you not. Don’t ask me why I didn’t turn on the light…there may be some psychological explanation about darkness reflecting embarrassment at my appearance. I don’t know, but that’s what I did. Until Brian went back outside.
Then he reappeared at the back door and walked into our kitchen. And I (still in my robe and frizzy hair) sank down into the family room sofa cushions, hoping he wouldn’t notice me. Trying to be invisible. If Brian saw me, he was polite enough not to comment. And for that I am forever grateful.
I wasn’t ready for Brian to come. Even though I knew he was coming. Even though I had plenty of warning. Why couldn’t I get myself ready?
And as I cringed in the sofa, I realized I’d had hints of this feeling before. Usually when my mother talked about how
wonderful it will be when Jesus returns. This has become a fairly frequent topic of conversation with her – more often than you or I would discuss. I think it’s partly because of her age. When you’re facing the ever-nearing and increasing likelihood of dying, there’s an appeal to just bypassing the whole death thing by having Jesus return. I also suspect she envisions herself staring into the sky from her driveway, watching the whole “Jesus Returns” thing like some Cecil B DeMille movie. It would certainly add excitement to her life!
But here’s my confession –
Whenever she says “wouldn’t be be great to be here and see Jesus returning” my answer is usually a very tempered “uh-huh.” Outwardly I agree, but inwardly I’m not quite as confident. You see, I have a slightly more pessimistic view of how Jesus returning is likely to play out.
I think it would be great if Jesus returned while I was in church, in the middle of awesome worship. Or telling someone about Jesus. Or caring for the poor.
But not all parts of my life are ….well…ready for company on a moment’s notice, if you know what I mean.
And it’s not just about Jesus returning. Because I have no idea whether Jesus will return today, next week, or in the year 4014. There’s probably a decent chance that I will die someday – just like people have been doing since Adam and Eve. But whether Jesus returns first or I die first, the result is still the same. I’ll be standing face-to-face before God and Jesus. Not me and Hubby. Just me. Alone.
And if I haven’t gotten my act completely together with God by then, it will be like me – a child of God – standing there in my pink bathrobe, with no makeup and messed-up hair. Wishing I’d done something to be more presentable.
And as I thought about it more, I thought about the Hubby. It’s different with him. He sees me all the time – and I don’t cringe at the thought. He certainly sees my flaws. But he loves me anyway. He’s seen them, we’ve talked about them, he helps me work some of the flaw-edness out of my life. He knows things about me I’m not even ready to admit to myself.
And yet he loves me. He sees the potential in me, not just the current reality. And it’s that vulnerability we have with each other, the trust that he loves me regardless and he works to help me overcome my flaws – that’s what has made us closer. All because I’ve openly shared all my flaws with him.
The cringe factor is gone.
And then it hit me. THIS is why the Bible tells us to confess our sins to God. For years I’ve known “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” I’ve always viewed this as just describing a transaction – “I confess, God forgives.” But it’s more than that. It’s also relational. Because when I bring my shortcomings to God and confess them – yes, He forgives me. But it also opens me up to a much deeper relationship with Him. We’ve discussed my shortcomings. He’s said “I forgive you.” He’s helping me overcome those sins (good thing, because on my own I’ve not been too successful!). He sees me as perfected, because Jesus died to take away my sins. We can be closer because I’ve experienced His unconditional love – in spite of me.
“If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” 1 John 1:9
Another confession –
I’ll admit that in the past I haven’t been too consistent about confessing my sins to God. OK – Maybe if I did a “whopper sin” – but otherwise, confession hasn’t featured prominently in my prayer life. The smaller sins tended to just slide on by. After all, I’m alot less sinful than I used to be…. And I would rather spend my prayer time asking for things and praying for other people, rather than dwelling on my sins. But when I don’t confess my sins, well….I can’t even forgive myself, much less experience God’s forgiveness.
I know I’m not the only one. King David was a man after God’s heart – and even he messed up big time by sleeping with Bathsheba and then having her husband killed to avoid discovery. And after trying to avoid the topic with God, even David experienced the restored relationship with God when he said “I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.” (Psalm 32:5)
And with that, I decided it was time for a confession experiment. If confessing could make me not want to cringe before my Lord about some parts of my life, then bring it on!
And while I was doing that, I decided to go for the gusto! No more of those wimpy confessions – like (hypothetical example) “I told a little white lie today.” Because those are merely symptoms. While I was clearing the air, I wanted to get at the root of my sins. Why did I lie? Because I want to look good, because I care more about me than about honoring my God, because I am proud and self-centered. Because I don’t trust God to get me through the consequences of telling the truth.
Why confess just symptoms, if the root issues remain? Whatever it was, I was ready to bring it before God. Because on the day I end up standing before God, just me….I don’t want to be cringing. I want to be saying “Thank You God – that was SO awesome how you helped me overcome that!”
So lately I’ve been spending time each day focusing on confession. And you know what? I don’t think I’ve shocked God yet. In fact, I’ve never been so motivated to confess my sins. I’ve got plenty! But I have a great God who forgives me and helps me overcome.
How about you? Have you “come clean” with God about your sin? If so, what was your experience? Or (like me) do you tend to avoid confession?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!