Lenten Contemplations


Days 39

"Is anyone among you suffering?  He should pray.  Is anyone in good spirits?
He should sing praise.  Is anyone among you sick?  He should summon the
presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with
oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person,
and the Lord will raise him up.  If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven."

James 5:13-15; The New American Bible

Confession and forgiveness  - you can't have one without the other.  How can one possibly forgive what is not confessed?  Even if only confessed to oneself, without acknowledgement of the remorse in the heart for an act committed against oneself, another, or God, how can one truly release the acerbic effects to our peace associated with the actions of the past?

There are so many ways we can confess and so many we can confess to, I think that is why God gives us so many different relationships with one another.  What you may not be able to tell your pastor, you could tell your best-friend, and what you can't confess to your best-friend, you would share with your mother, and what you would never share with your mother becomes the words on a strangers mind. 

We have a need to get things "off our chest,"  so we talk to ourselves, but that isn't enough, for feedback is paramount.  For who receives our words and who is offering a nodding head, an affirming embrace, or even gives us admonishment when we are alone?  Without confession, what's inside chases us like a nagging reminder that we aren't worthy, for what we did was "so bad" and  we don't deserve grace and love or kindness and mercy.  The great accuser is always seeking to keep us out of relationship with our Heavenly Father whose foundation of love and grace is mercy and forgiveness.  We begin to believe we can't face God with sin upon our faces and in dishonor we turn away with shame. 

Yet God know this to be the case, so he provides many people for us to shed our remorse just by simply sharing our acts.   But he gives us someone greater than all these many's - Christ.  Through speaking and recognizing our wrongful actions and admitting them to our Lord, confessing our soul's remorse for what's been done, we are seeking repentance and forgiveness and it's an opportunity to leave behind what no longer suits us.

The bible teaches confess and repent.  Jesus taught us to confess and repent.  Through confession we take the power of ill-intention out of the picture and begin replacing it with the power of God's truth - that he forgives us.   It takes a heart full of recognition that what was done, was wrong, and a readiness to step aside from it, give it up to Christ, and move into a repentant heart for full of transmutation of the sin into merciful deeds to be shared with those who we meet.

The Lord knows what we've done and we know what we've done.  He wants us to understand our actions and what they mean to all involved.  He wants us to accept culpability, responsibility and to understand the consequences of our actions.  Once we gain this insight, he then wants us to hand it over.  Give it up.  He doesn't want us holding onto things of the past which prevent us from being with him.  His love for us is not based on how we can show him our goodness, for it is his spirit that fills us with goodness. 

His love is unconditional and he wants us to be able to receive his love.  It's been said that you can't love someone if you do not love yourself first.  If you are carrying around ideas and thoughts that you are not worthy of love for your past doings, than who is going to forgive you?  Who is going to love you?  This is why Christ and Father God are so beautiful, because they both sacrificed so that WE may benefit - that's how much love they have for us.  Jesus left his kingdom, and took the form of man as a sacrificial lamb, to have his blood spilled for our salvation.  All he asks is that we follow him, learn from him and find repentance, for it is repentance which leads to the freedom in your mind.  

He frees us from the clutches and lies of the deceiver and brings us into relationship with him, not the liar.  He is our grace and his words conquer the liar and override.  And God?  God gave us his Son, his only Son, so that Jesus could fulfill this mission.  It's almost as if you could see Jesus in heaven asking his Father, "Can I go down there and offer myself so that our family can come home?"  His heart is that big. 

This is why I love the act of confession.  What I've learned is that you can enter a privacy room, and choose one of two things: confess your wrongdoings in detail, especially if you haven't contemplated them too much, and clear your conscious; or you can enter that same privacy and confess the unspecific sin.  And I've learned that once you understand your sin, once you comprehend the offense, God doesn't want you describing it to him anymore.  He already knows.  Jesus already knows.  Once your heart is filled with repentance, than the list can be thrown away.  The descriptions removed.  For if your heart is truly repentant, not guilt-ridden, but repentant, then you pretty much know the Lord is working in you, moving you away from the conviction into the embrace of sharing your lesson with others.  And you find your heart is much more forgiving unto others as his love and compassion has been unto you.

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,
that you may be healed.  The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful."

James 5:16; The New American Bible


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"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

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