When I had stopped confessing my sin
If I’ve learned anything it’s that the work on my heart is constantly under construction. Sometimes I start to think I have a good handle on certain things and just need to work on these other areas, but God in His grace is quick to show me that there is much more still that I am missing. One of those areas I learned of recently was in the area of confession.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped confessing. I stopped truly confessing. While I knew my immense need for God and would depend upon Him for strength is many ways, I managed in my own way to take true confession out of my routine. Of course I’d apologize over big things, and ask forgiveness when I lost my patience or said something unkind. However, slowly and slowly my continual prayers and my pleas for help started to become something different.
Lord, give me strength today. Lord, help me with these kids. Lord, give me patience right now. Lord, give me peace right now. Lord, forgive me for getting angry. Lord, I’m sorry I haven’t been reading. Give me, give me, give me, give me, give me. This is hard. This is hard. This is hard.
Somewhere along the line my prayers had started to resemble something more of a laundry list of circumstances God should fix and reactions for Him to forgive. Of course these phrases and prayers are not bad in themselves. Of course we should speak to God from our hearts, and sometimes those weary hearts can only cry a few words of help. But as I started to think back on what I was saying to God, I realized I had developed a pattern of a lack of ownership for my sin. While maybe I was confessing my sin, in my heart I’m not even sure I understood the root of that sin. Had the circumstances been changed to easier in a minute, I’m not sure I would have been broken as I should have been.
I found myself greatly aware of my need of God’s power in the day to day difficulties, but found myself not regularly admitting my need for his mercy in my reactions to those day to day difficulties.
In truth, my sin is not just a product of my circumstances, it is a direct and personal attack to God. We can see this in Numbers 14, as the Israelites started to grumble over the fear of going into the land of Canaan. In verse 11 the Lord says to Moses, “How long will the people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me…? Their fear and grumbling words were not just an innocent reaction, it was a personal denial of God’s holiness, His promises, and His power. They didn’t just need help to “make it through” that difficult day, they needed to realize their fear and complaining was in reality despising the Lord their God.
In truth, my sin is not just a product of my circumstances, it is a direct and personal attack to God.
In Psalm 51 we can see an example by David of true confession- owning and acknowledging the very personal nature of our sin.
“Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight” Psalm 51:4
So, I began to bring true confession back to my prayers throughout the day. I started to be honest with God and myself about what was really going on in my heart. Instead of solely asking for strength, I honestly told God I didn’t want to answer another question from my four year old. I told him I didn’t want to be loving because I’d rather work on what I wanted to. I told him I didn’t feel like doing the laundry and dishes today because I didn’t think it was an important enough job for me. I told him I wanted to strike back in anger at those I loved because I was hurt and didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I told him I wanted all things to work out according to my own plan and not His.
God wasn’t surprised at what was in my heart, He already knew- but I was the one who was realizing the weight of what was going on. I realized how personal it really was. And after the shame, I felt that burden lift each time I honestly spoke to the Lord. Because in those words of honesty, a realization of who I am and a reminder of what Christ has done for me came back in my head. I was no longer just trying on my own and asking for extra strength- instead I was helpless- completely needy, but at the same time completely empowered by Jesus who triumphed over those very personal and terrible sins on the cross.