What I needed all along was a place where I could bring my sin, but no one pointed the way (or more likely they did but I never saw it.) Most wanted me to feel better about myself. God loves you, they said.
Well, yes, but what about all this YUCK inside me?
What about the ill-spoken words to a friend?
What about how I selfishly wanted to yell at my family, “Make your own lunches!”
What about how yesterday I told God, “I know what you want me to do, and I don’t want to do it.” Pushing back against Him.
It’s like carrying two heaping-full paper bags of groceries that I can’t even see over, and would someone please tell me where I should set them down? And everyone says, Bags? What bags? Why do you feel so yucky? God loves you.
Well, yes, but there’s still this sin.
What do I DO with it, please?
Recently God showed me where to set down my sin, and it is perfection. It is an epiphany. I feel like I’m the first one EVER to discover this special place, and I am announcing it to the world. Here it is:
The cross of Christ.
This realization seems ridiculous, because I have been following Christ for 37 years, but I never knew the cross was for every day. For everyday sin. I thought it was just this come-get-saved place.
Why didn’t anyone ever tell me I would need the cross on MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday?
When I come to the cross I say, I am wretched! and no one argues with me. No one pats me on the head and says, Oh honey, you’re not that bad. You’re one of the nicest people I know. When I come to the cross and cry out this day’s sin, Jesus says, Yes. You are sinful.
Thank you. Finally someone agrees with me.
Jesus says, I see those bags you carry. Put them here. Empty them, one at a time, and let’s see what you’ve got.
Out of the bags come selfishness, greed, slander, slothfulness, envy… One at a time I pull out my transgressions, and Jesus says, Yes, I see it.
Confession: A formal agreement with God that I have gone my own way instead of His.
And it feels so good. It is glorious to have a place to bring my sin and pull it out and talk about it and SEE it and set it down. A place where no one is trying to boost my self-esteem and make me feel good about myself. In this place there is grace, forgiveness, and hope, and it is safe to talk about the failures.
Paul says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God –through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)
Do you hear it?
In the same breath –I am wretched and Jesus is the Christ!
It’s okay for me to say I am wretched. It. Is. Okay.
Blessed are those who mourn. (Matthew 5:4 NIV)
Blessed are the poor in spirit. (Matthew 5:3 NIV)
Change your laughter to mourning
and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and he will lift you up.
(James 4:9-10 NIV)
It is not until I know I have the stain that I can appreciate the one who cleanses. I must look and know my sin. Let me grieve. Don’t rush me through the grief.
“At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin,
and abhor it,
look on him whom I perceived,
as one slain for me, and by me.”
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
Only then can I rejoice with Paul, Thanks be to God for the rescue!
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
And I find that the more sorrowful I am over sin, the more extraordinary is the soft touch of grace and the power of the resurrection restoring my life.
Christ offers something more deeply satisfying than a warm-fuzzy self-esteem.