The Gift of Confession

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I’m in the middle of a great book.  I recommend it.  The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski is an excellent book on spiritual renewal and growth. It’s not a speed-read.  It is thought-provoking and quite challenging.   I highly recommend it.

It digs deeper than the feel-goods I usually enjoy reading.  It explores beyond the typical, everyday sort of religious conversations into mapping out spiritual practice. 

Recently, I read a chapter on confession.  The practice of confession serving as a healing point for our hearts and minds.  In the particular religious construct I find myself a part of, confession is a private and personal moment between God and me.

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I wonder how many times, though, I am ashamed to truly confess or become too busy for true confession.  There are two components to confession.

One is coming clean before God and the other is coming clean before others. 

Can we really believe confession is beneficial? 

Frederick Buechner said,

“To confess your sins to God is not to tell him anything he doesn’t already know.  Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you.  When you confess them, they become the bridge.”

This is powerful.  I often find that I too often offer blanket confession before God. 

Sometimes, a one-size-fits-all type of confession. “Lord, forgive my sin.”  There is beauty in this, but I have to think it isn’t always enough. It is good to be specific and honest with ourselves and with God.  I have noticed when I am open and honest, my openness to His work on my behalf increases. 

In recent months, when I have been honest about my sin, say of unforgiveness, and I name it for what it is and ask for His help in conquering it, I notice a change in me.  I see His hand working and sense He is ready to help. 

Honestly, I miss this too often.  I get busy or lose track, but He is showing me His faithfulness every time. 

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Let’s take this one step further. 

Can you imagine how our spiritual and mental health would improve if we were able to make confession to someone safe as well?  To be able to safely unload our shame.  And in this way, not carrying our burden alone. 

The Bible speaks of confessing our sins to one another. 

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How many of us ever feel safe enough to confess any of our shortcomings and sins to other people?  Our culture is too caught up in having it together. And, let’s face it, often, we know our sin can and will be used against us.  

Many times we find the self-righteous Believers among us and this quickly shuts down the conversation.  But, I want us to consider true confession as a pathway to a whole and sound life.

 This is where our self-righteousness (in ourselves and towards others) needs to fall by the wayside. God sees our suffering in sin as like a cancer.  It is eating away at us and must be handled.  It is not out of vengeance or anger He looks upon us, but, it is with compassion and mercy.  He knows it is killing us. 

And, He has the cure.

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He hates sin.  He hates the death it is bringing.  He doesn’t hate us. 

In His love, He is calling us to Him so He can heal us and make us whole.  So, confession, while initially seems vulnerable and unpleasant, is the answer to our pain. Pulling our sin out of the darkness and flushing it with light, destroys the hold it has over us.  The enemy of our souls thrives in the dark; secret sins have no power over us when they are brought into the light.

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Our sin, which causes a breach, will soon become the bridge after we open wide our hearts to Him and His inspection.  As a recovering perfectionist, I hate to be wrong or make mistakes.  Not just because it means I am wrong, but because, it means somewhere in this heart of mine, I am flawed. 

I don’t like being flawed.  But, I am.  We all are. 

This Savior sees and knows our weakness and failings.  Let’s be honest and open with Him and with the safe people in our lives.  Healing comes when we open our hearts and sweep out the junk we’ve swept into a corner.

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Hiding

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This past week the reminders have been quite vivid and stir my soul.  When God works, he does an amazing job.  He unceasingly works on our behalf and I must stop and call attention to his handiwork.

I am amazed when I witness the tender loving care of a Father who knows exactly what we long for and desperately need.  Our need and pain are not lost on him.  When we relinquish control of our will and plans and rely totally on him, he speaks to our need.  We may not even know exactly what it is we need, but he does.

What a loving, personal God. 

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He could have set this world in motion and stepped aside to see what we could come up with.  Watching from a distance.  And waiting. But he didn’t.

And, most certainly, we make a mess out of things.  Our pain comes from our own hands or from selfish desires around us.

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No matter the depth of our brokenness and regardless of how far scattered the pieces of our hearts, his beautiful grace works a breathtaking miracle.  If we let him.  When it is the easiest to hide and shelter our hearts, that is when we must step into the light.

Vulnerable and available.  

He longs to bless and comfort and mend the broken shreds.  But, so often we shrink into the shadows.  People hurt.  Rejection screams.  Loss tears and rips at the fiber of our souls.  And we lay in a heap.  Broken. Devastated. Wounded. Desperate.

Desperate for a loving grace that brings healing.

Truly, desperate to be known, and yet loved.

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He knows our weakness and our vulnerability.  How desperate we are for him.  He longs for us.  He seeks us out.  He searches and finds us.

Do we hide because we are undone and naked?  Who of our fathers and mothers was that again?

Are we the only ones?  Are we walking in the company of a great swell of witnesses? Those who have walked through shadows cheer us on.

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What do we lose if we quit?  Who remains lost because we refused to be known?  He knows and sees anyway.  All is already clear to him anyway.

Why do we feel the need to hide?

He has healing in his hands.  Pours out the oil of gladness and a peace that no man can conjure.  In my depths, I look up for hope.  He is our hope waiting along with peace and joy.  Healing.

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What man and the snake intended for evil, all will be made right.

The gift of the cross made right our broken souls.

It made clear what the serpent sought to do.  Death was in the serpent’s lie.  Death is the tongue and jealous desires of man.  But, no man can ever separate us from the Love of God.  No schemes or plans can ever cause our release from his grip.

It’s a grip.  A grip of grace, of love, of hope, of joy.

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Hiding causes us to miss it.  In the moments of hiding and closing off our hearts, God holds the remedy.  A salve only found in him.

He does all things well.

The Psalmist of long ago cried out with such beauty and desperation I feel it in the depths of my soul:

“I think about the heavens.

    I think about what your fingers have created.

I think about the moon and stars

    that you have set in place.

What are human beings that you think about them?

What is a son of man that you take care of him?”

(Psalm 8:3,4)

Yes! That is me!  My human self!

My micro self in the sight of a macro God. There is awe in the reality.

  Why in the world should I hide? 

I am known by him and yet I am desperately loved.

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I’m not a burden or disappointment. Ever.

I am my beloveds; he is mine.

And, you, too.  Created and kissed by God.  He created us and called us good.

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I am safest when I hide in his hand.

Not hiding from his hand.

Healing is in those hands.  For he has engraved us upon his palms.

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The Whole Of It

…..May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.  The One who called you is completely dependable.  If he said it, he’ll do it!!

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There is something that calls to me from this Scripture.  You will find it in I Thessalonians 5:23-24.  This world has a way of pulling us into a million pieces.   Start with responsibilities, toss in a few wounds, mix in unmet expectations, throw in some disappointment and there you have it!  I would never say life is all bad.  But, stuff happens, and there ya go!

As a mom, one of the most important things is to see your children whole and happy—living to the fullest.  When you see one of those cubs struggling  to stay afloat, your instincts kicks into gear.  I’m sure you are familiar with “Mother Bear” syndrome.  I’m really familiar with it!

I do believe I lived in Mother Bear mode for about 3 years.  There’s not a thing that can be said to a woman in full-on MB. Those cubs are the treasures and the way I see it, it’s our responsibility (with my honey) to get them from start to adulthood in one relatively good, solid piece.  They need to be someone people can stand to be with and do something good with the space they take up.  They need to pursue their passions and dreams and be all they can be.

So, when life starts getting in the way and you see your treasures fracturing and losing their handhold, MB mode is on high alert!  My prayers for my hurting child were for him to be whole…. nothing missing and nothing broken in his life.  I didn’t want the pain and anguish he experienced at the hand of someone so incredibly selfish to derail and destroy greatness within.  I prayed and prayed for the wholeness which was rightfully his.

I remember God spoke to my heart that “he had seen it all” and my child and family would be healed and whole.  He cared even more than I did.  I wrote it down.  I clung to that promise as my lifeline.  That was over 2 years ago.  I haven’t forgotten.

images-2 But, there have been times I have felt that the progress just was not good enough.  It wasn’t a complete enough healing.  I remember telling God during a particular season this wasn’t going to be good enough.  Next try, please.  I’m not sure what God thought about that. But, I felt I was exercising my faith.  I knew God told me the broken parts would be healed….this wasn’t healed, as I understood healing!  It certainly was a start, but I was believing for wholeness.  There was a pain and hurt so deep that only God could touch it.  But, I believed.  I hid that promise in my heart.

I’ve watched him on this journey.  Huge steps forward and some hiccups along the way.  He wants it just as much as we do for him.  It takes time and is a long journey that is neither easy nor enjoyable.  But the strength of his spirit is inspiring and one of a true fighter; he will not be labeled a victim.  For all of us, we want quick, easy answers and solutions to the pain and loss.  We know such answers won’t come.  But, I haven’t stopped believing!

Now, here we are.  Three years later, great ground has been covered, healing has taken place, much learning and growing has been experienced.  And, I am still watching and listening.  God is answering and doing what he said he would do.

I just had an incredible conversation with my boy.  He experienced God in a powerful way during his university’s chapel service a couple of weeks ago.  He isn’t one to share his personal pain on a constant basis and has a list in his heart he knew intimately….hurt and pain he had just assumed would always be there.  He was coping.  God said,  “That’s not good enough.”  God promised…..and he is delivering.  God came in that moment….even when my boy wasn’t looking for it.  He met him there and brought more healing and hope to the hidden and private pain.   He talked of joy like he hadn’t experienced in years.  Oh! How a mama’s heart is healed by hearing such things.

When God promises something, he delivers.  Our timetable is rarely correct.  He doesn’t work on Human Standard Time.  When he promises he will make you whole, putting together body, mind and soul, that is what he intends to do. I haven’t given up.  It comes out of nowhere, looking different than I expect.  But, oh my!

A few days before my son’s extraordinary moment with God, God sent a reminder to me of this very verse.  I took note.  He gently reminded me and turned my head toward him.  I knew.  And then, seemingly out of nowhere, he came and amazed us once again.

He’s just cool like that.