Once a week, I meet with a friend to pray. We’ll call her Charlotte. We pray about the things going on in my life, the things NOT going on in my life, and for healing. This week, I went to her with a very restless heart. I’ve felt completely surrounded by darkness lately. I had many encounters with people and ideas that hate the Light. And since I’ve not been spending too much time, alone, with The Light, my soul felt…muddy. That’s the best way to explain it.
Charlotte said she felt we needed to spend some time in confession. Sin definitely muddies the soul. People always say that sin separates us from relationship with Jesus. But I am sure I read that nothing can separate us from Him. But there is undoubtedly a dissonance in my relationship with Jesus when I’m putting other things first. So, confession it is.
I remember Charlie speaking on how we think of sin as breaking a rule, when it’s really breaking a relationship. It’s like confessing sin is telling God that we stole or lied or sped. I think it’s easy to see sin as an event. “Dear Jesus. I’m sorry I robbed the bank. Please forgive me. I’ve learned my lesson and will never rob a bank again. Amen.”
Sitting there in Charlotte’s study, I didn’t have any event I needed to inform God about. The confessions of my heart regard who I am, not what I’ve done. “Dear Jesus. I don’t know why people talk to you like they’re writing you a letter. That being said, I’m selfish and impatient and lazy and short-sided. And I want you on my terms because I don’t know how to relate to you any other way. Forgive me. Amen.”
But in that confession, I haven’t learned my lesson. The girl saying Amen will still be as selfish and impatient as the girl who wishes she could just confess an infraction, learn her lesson and be free from it. But my sin isn’t what I do. It’s who I am. I can acknowledge to Jesus I’m all those wretched things, ask for forgiveness, and the next minute, prove to Him I wasn’t kidding. I’m just as rediculous as I was when I started praying. And my soul doens’t feel less muddy.
If sin really does separate us from Jesus, and who I am is full of the stuff, then how are He and I to get on? Maybe the whole “You better confess your sins or there will be distance between you and Jesus” wasn’t accurate. If sin is a part of who I am, and confessing who I am to Him doesn’t change me, then I’m always in my sin, and, therefore, always separated from Him. Yeah, that doesn’t sound right to me either.
Charlotte said I needed to practice the presence of Christ. Abide in Him and let Him change me. I must admit, that’s one of those things people say, but I don’t know exactly what it means in a practical way. I like projects that have a clear beginning and end, processes where your actions produce a relatively expected result like painting a room or reading a book. But Jesus, and life with Him, has no formula or proccesses I can follow. And so I’m left saying “Jesus, what do I do to get it right?” Oh, I can smell Hell’s smoke all over that statement. But it’s who I am, and what can I do but confess it…..