honesty about sin means honesty about salvation

I read this gem in my Lent devotional this morning, from philosopher Søren Aabye Kierkegaard:

“Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from God.”

I don’t like thinking about my sin, even though it seems I’m always aware of it and always fighting shame against it. But it is a private shame, one I push beneath workflow and to the corners of social plans. I don’t like that I stumble and fail and forget lessons I learned the hard way. I don’t like that I require crazy amounts of patience from God, as He reteaches my heart to submit and love and serve and obey.

But, when I finally speak my sin into the light I realize how much energy I spent keeping it in the dark. Not that my efforts to hide selfishness and pride can keep anything from my Maker (and, of course I know that), but shame is a great and sly motivator.

When I confess my sin, I distance myself from any identity associated with rebellion and lean on the identity of the One who saves. But this relief only comes by way of honest confession.

So many times, I will kneel in church or pause for prayer and search my mind for something to confess. Satan somehow clears all the sin I have been shamefully hiding and replaces that elephant space in my mind with silent whiteness. My thoughts don’t even wander, there is just nothing there at all. Later, of course, the sins creep out from the corners to remind me that I am unworthy.

My heart needs confession (honesty about my sin) because my heart desperately needs forgiveness (honesty about salvation).

There is just no way around it, but there is also no greater glory to be found. God welcomes our confession and exchanges us a crown. He covers us in His grace and grants us inexplicable joy.

He leads us like a shepherd and chases us when we stray. What a beautiful friend we have in Jesus, friends – that He would chase down a forgetful and frightened heart to offer perfect freedom from shame.

when little children understand that badness needs a remedy

I enjoy anything Rain for Roots or Sally Lloyd-Jones. Just quality folks with the kind of creativity that touches the spirit of little ones, you know? Well, their collaboration with the Rain for Roots CD is brilliant and so recently I made it my soundtrack while I chauffeur little ones around the city.

One little one said (after a tantrum heavy hour),

“I feel bad…
because I was bad.”

I had to stop swaying to “Jesus is Alive” in the front seat to ask,

“What’s that, sweetie?”

“I feel bad…
because I was bad.”

Oh, the beauty and tenderness of a fragile heart! I melted a little bit and pleaded silently for wisdom – not the high brow kind, but the singing and dancing and leaping kind.

Have you ever been inside a moment where you know the Gospel is begging to be shared – just right there in front of you like an open door? Have you ever started to walk through in faith and found yourself on the threshold thinking, “This sounds CRAZY! How is this ever going to make sense?”

And then the longer you talk about it, the more you are convinced that you’re not making sense. That’s the moment you start praying simultaneously for God to graciously rip out your words and replace them with His – one of those supernatural things where the person hears something you might not even be speaking.

Just me? Hm.

But this little one, she was listening.

She was listening to another child who was once lost, but a child who was found by God. She was listening as I talked about why we feel bad when we are bad… about how our badness hurts other people. I told her that her badness hurt me, because badness always hurts people.

“Are you hurt?”

I said I was, but that there is something called forgiveness.

And that led to talking about God, who taught us how to forgive – who sent His Son out of love but was hurt in the worst way. His Son was even killed because of people’s badness.

“He walked on this ground?”

Yep, He walked on this ground – like a person.

“And then they killed him?”

Yes, that’s pretty bad, huh?

“Yeah, that’s really bad.”

This God who offered forgiveness for the badness of those who hurt Him also offers forgiveness to us if we believe Jesus is God’s Son and has the power to forgive us.

We pulled into the driveway and gathered everything from the backseat. As we were walking up the sidewalk, I said, “You know what? I’m so glad I saw you today. You are very special.”

“Even though I was bad?”

“Yes, even though you were bad.”

And especially because you were bad, dear child! I wanted to say. Especially because you understand there is badness in you that makes you uncomfortable and sad and sick with guilt. 

I drove away from that house with all sorts of prayers that God would replace my words with His and melt the heart of this little one so she can know His forgiveness and love. I prayed that she would understand what it means that Jesus is alive.

ALIVE and daily offering to break the cycle of badness with the weight of His forgiveness and grace. ALIVE.

Because badness needs a remedy and His name is Jesus. And He is ALIVE!

let LOVE fly like cRaZY