Have you ever felt like something in your day was a little bit off? Something that you couldn’t really put your finger on- just a feeling that something wasn’t quite right? And the more you think about it, the more you get the suspicion that the thing that isn’t quite right is… you?
Okay, I’m beginning with a very obtuse hypothetical situation when really, what I want to say is that sometimes this is me. Sometimes I have a nagging feeling that there is something just not right in me.
It’s at these times that I begin to remember things I’ve done in my past that I’m not particularly proud of. Things like not keeping my word, speaking angry and critical words about and to others, not being completely honest. And when those ugly moments come up, I begin to realize that nagging feeling is guilt.
Where is that guilt coming from?
First, the Bible tells is that we have an enemy who accuses us before God day and night (Revelation 12:10). Our enemy wants us to live in guilt-ridden spiritually ineffective lives, always questioning the faithfulness of God to forgive us. This enemy despises the grace and mercy and forgiveness of God, and if he will bring up all our past offenses to God, don’t you think he will do the same to us?
But we know the truth. God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us, and to give us His Holy Spirit so that we can live in great power and boldness and confidence. Because of His holiness, we are justified, we are His sons and daughters. This guilt is a lie.
Sometimes, though, I have learned that guilt feelings come from somewhere else.
You see, if we are truly going to live in all the richness that Christ secured for us on Calvary, we need to understand that the condition for that forgiveness and cleansing is confession of our sins. And sometimes, we don’t really get how confession works.
Confession is not only admitting our sin and admitting that it was wrong and hurtful. Most of the time my prayer of confession goes something like this: “Lord, please forgive me for being lazy today. I know that this displeases you and I ask you to help me to do better tomorrow.”
Solid prayer, right? Eh, not exactly. Let me try to explain.
One of the scariest prayers to pray is found in Psalm 139:23-24. This is the passage where we ask God to search our hearts, to try our thoughts, to show us our wicked ways; it’s a prayer that gives the One who sees all, who knows all, complete permission to illuminate things that even I might not be aware of.
See, when I give Him that permission, He’s going to show me the reason why I’m struggling with laziness. He’s going to gently and lovingly point out the hidden root causes that I don’t want to see- that I don’t want anyone to see. He’s going to mention the self-centeredness, the self-worship that causes me to give in to my flesh with unhealthy habits. These sins that grow deep are the things that He wants to cleanse because they will continue to trip me up.
Is that fun? Ummm… nope! Is that humbling? Oh, yeah!
But y’all… the depth of confession that God wants from us brings freedom. When I get down in the weeds with Him and cry out for mercy for all the ugliness that He shows me- He forgives, He cleanses, He makes new.
And when He does, great peace follows. A deeper experience of His love than ever before overtakes me.
Is God going to answer my lesser prayers. Yes. I believe that He will. But He has so much more for me to experience. The first step is trusting Him to lead me to it.
Before I end this post I want to say this- I’m writing here to people who are Christ followers, to people who have already committed their hearts and lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior, whose eternity is already settled with Him in Heaven. If you haven’t done that, much of what I’ve written here is not going to make sense to you in a personal way. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about what it means to get your eternity settled.