Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Confession

[what's brewing: a deep, dark blend]

While I was in graduate school I used to frequent a small used-book shop near the campus. One afternoon I found a small, green book of verses, prayers and poems that quickly became a favorite of mine. I don’t read it daily or even weekly, which heightens my amazement that God so often uses the words of a randomly selected reading to address a specific need in my heart. Today I opened the small book and found a prayer that perfectly articulated what my heart has been trying to say to the Lord all week. But first, let me explain how this week developed.

I recently discovered a podcast of a woman I heard speak at a conference some time ago. As I listened, I was struck by her profound gratitude for the daily covering of God’s grace in her life. She was immensely grateful for the saving grace of God, and she poured this gratitude out in worship to the Lord in a way that I have never seen before. I knew right away that, as much as I would like to tell myself otherwise, I do not have that same level of gratitude to the Lord. I express my gratitude in prayer and worship, but it does not move me the way it moves this woman.

After contemplating this realization for awhile, I have identified one critical difference between myself and the woman I was listening to: the lack of awareness of sin in my daily life.

I have somehow come to think of my sin in general categories -- specifically, the areas in which I am struggling or being molded by the Lord. I am quick to admit my sinful ways to my close friends, and I appreciate discussions with others over my failures in the pursuit to be like Christ because I leave feeling edified and encouraged. I know and believe that I am a broken sinner, dependent on God’s grace, but when I really stop to think about it, I have sorely neglected the practice of daily confession before the Lord.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve purposefully stopped to take an account of my day, confess my specific sins (whether they be blatant or silent), and ask God to forgive those specific things which offend His very character. I pray for forgiveness and for the power to change, but I am convinced that moving towards this type of daily confession would develop a keen awareness of my desperate need for grace and forgiveness, which would then result in a profound gratitude for a God who not only lavishes this grace upon me but does so freely and joyfully. Hopefully, this whole process will then ignite a passion for purity and holiness in my daily activities as well.

This type of reflection and personal confession has become the longing of my heart, and I’m inspired by what I heard in the speaker's heart. I want to overflow with gratitude for God’s forgiveness as she did, and I’m ready to develop a habit of examining my own heart before the Lord, not just discussing my struggles and failures with friends for accountability. So you can now understand my delight when I read these words of prayer, the very cry of my own heart, in the little green book today:

O God, my God, abide with me throughout the whole course of this day, and so support my weakness that, when evening comes, although none may be justified in Thy sight, I be not altogether ashamed to render unto Thee an accounting. And do Thou, in Thy mercy, pardon whatsoever shall be amiss in thought, word, or deed. Then, O Lord, let me not be blind to my sins, but discover them to me, that I may sorrow unto life and sleep not unto spiritual death; and to Thee shall be honor and praise forever. Amen.

I read it silently and then aloud in the stillness of the morning hours, so many aspects of this prayer resonating with my soul:

Abide with me.
Support my weakness,
Render unto Thee an accounting.
Amiss in thought, word, or deed.
Let me not be blind.
Discover them to me…that I sleep not unto spiritual death.
Honor and praise forever.

Amen.

15 comments:

Grammy said...

What a timely post. Yesterday I had a major meltdown at language school. While in the bathroon wipeing my tears I was also confessing my sins. Anger, envy, pride, selfdoubt, and I'm sure others as well.Language wasn't my problem yesterday it was my attitude towards a frustration.

angiewashington.com said...

Hm, I too have a tendency to open up to close friends before I talk to God about sins in my life. Thanks for the reminder.

CA RN to Honduras Missionary said...

I think this is a struggle that almost everyone can understand and relate to. I think it's very helpful to open our hearts to our specific sins to allow God to work better in helping us to overcome them.

kimom said...

Amen! I agree that 'specific sin' reaches deeper into our depths, shining light where it needs to be. Unfortunately confession is a lost art in some parts of the Body of Christ, but is so necessary and beneficial to growing in Him!

I've not posted before, because I was leary of sharing my blog. Here's my confession... =) We are on furlough and our blog is mostly about our kids, which I feared was not very exciting to share. But I'm reading every week, and will face my sin in 'fearing man more than God' and put myself out there. Thank you, brave sisters, for sharing your blogs and ideas for shy readers like me!

Gabriele said...

Thank you. That was what I needed to hear today.

thetaskathand said...

I know exactly what you mean. There are days when I feel I need to confess the sin of pride bc I have a hard time remembering all the sins I've committed specifically. I also try to make it a practice of adding on, "And forgive me for all the sin that I cannot remember doing and the sins I didn't even realize I committed. Make me more aware of my sin so I can confess them specifically!" It's awesome to know that even if we "miss" one in our confession time, God still forgives us.

Becky Aguirre said...

Your post really resonates with me. God has been convicting me in this area of my life and while the lessons have been hard, I am humbled to see the resulting gratitude and thankfulness that are in my heart (not that I have arrived...).

A phrase from the book I'm reading, How People Change (by Lane/Tripp) keeps coming to mind...something about viewing the sin that is around me as greater than the sin that is in me (sorry, can't remember the exact quote, but the baby is sleeping in my room where the book is and we don't want to wake the sleeping 'lion'!)...anyway, viewing my sin from that perspective has definitely brought into focus the greatness of God's saving grace (and also for extending that grace to others). For many years I wondered why I, too, wasn't more moved by my relationship with God, wondering what I was missing...I am thankful for the ways God has been working to renew that relationship with Him.

My Place of Peace said...

Thanks for your honesty and for sharing that beautiful prayer.

Duane and Carin said...

Thank-you.

Carin

Gaults in Lesotho said...

Thank you! This is what God's been talking to me about.

Chantelle said...

How true that we dont spend enough time looking at our own issues and repenting daily before God and letting him purify us. Thanks for the awesome blog!

Chantelle
www.chroniclesofourjourney.blogspot.com

Coffeegirl said...

I have to say that I wasn't sure what to expect when I posted this week. Somehow there is a part of me that always wonders if other people have the same struggles, or how people will respond when I expose my own issues. Eve's desire to cover herself up has been passed along to us, hasn't it? Becky, I like your summary of the concept in How People Change - that's right on for me. And Kimom, I'm glad you've stepped out and joined us! Thank you for your comments, friends.

It's been a soul cleansing week for me. I bought a new journal and have found it much easier to stay focused on my confessional prayers as I write them down and reflect on them. At first I wasn't sure if I wanted a written reminder of my many sins, but the entries now feel like markers of the steps I'm taking to be aware of my sins, confess them and strive for holiness. I've been focusing on 1 Peter 1:15,16 in connection with this concept of confession this week - "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" That is a daunting but motivating call, isn't it?

Becky Aguirre said...

An interesting thing happened this week...I'd been thinking about your post and confessing sin...

Last week I began hosting a Friday morning coffee fellowship for ladies at my house as part of my ministry (miss. women in Spanish study). Last Friday was the first day and it turned out that nobody came! I really struggled with it because I knew the circumstances of why people couldn't make it, and yet it was making me feel rejected. I WANTED to be okay with it, but I wasn't.

As I thought about this post and was considering my feelings, it ocurred to me to think about whether there might have be any sin involved with that struggle...pretty much as soon as I thought about it, I realized that it WAS a pride issue! It hurt my pride that nobody came and I realized that in this instance I was serving to please people, not God. I was able to specifically confess my sin and give the Friday morning fellowship times to Him. This morning I had 5 women come and it was good. After the last lady left, I was able to pour out my gratefulness to God for using me and my home to encourage them.

So thanks, Coffeegirl, for taking steps to be open and transparent because it IS encouraging us readers out here! :) Blessings...

Coffeegirl said...

Becky, thank you for sharing that story here. I like your conclusion - you were able to pour out your gratefulness to God for using you and your home to encourage them. I am with you in feeling that confession resets the proper perspective and allows us to see all things as a gift from His hand, rather than the natural result of our own labors. And our gratitude naturally multiplies when we view those encouraging moments as coming from His hand. Great reflection - thanks again for sharing.

Pam said...

Hey Coffeegirl, your message is timely for me - even though I just read it! :) I got to go to a women's retreat this past weekend and had a great time worshiping and spending time alone with God. On Sunday morning, God broke through some layers of callousness on my heart with his love as I really had time to contemplate anew his love and all he's done for us. The passage that we were meditating on was Luke 7:36-50 - the sinful woman washing Jesus' feet with her tears. Verse 47 really spoke to me - "he who has been forgiven little loves little". We have all be forgiven enormously -- but we don't all realize that. When I don't think about my sin (because basically I'm a good person, right?) and don't confess it and ask for forgiveness, my heart grows calloused and I love less and less. So thank you for sharing your thoughts - we do need to acknowledge and confess our regular sinfulness! We are all a bunch of dirty, rotten sinners who can freely love because we have been so freely loved!:) Bless you!

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