I wrote a tell-all book many years ago. The good news is that it told-all about ME. It is no Pulitzer prize winner but it is perhaps one of the most healing acts I have ever done. To put on paper, with pen, the complete and honest account of your own sins is to be forever free of the power the devil has over you to let your secret out. Now he comes, as he does, in the middle of the night and says, “What right do you have to talk to people? If they only knew what you had done.” And I, sleepily will say, “It’s in a book. They can read it for themselves.” 🙂 In the 12 Steps, we say that is being at a place where there is “nothing to prove and nothing to hide.”
The Psalmist must feel that today. “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.” (Psalm 32:3) Hiding our sin is a weight, so great, that humans were never meant to bear up under it. Adam and Eve, slinking naked through the Garden, desperate to find something to cover their shame, and trying to hide from the One who breathed them into existence. King David, alone and depressed in his chambers while he waited for news from the front lines of the death of Uriah, and hoping that no one would ever know, never imagining that pesky prophet, Nathan. There is a whole lot of wasting and groaning going on as we live with our secret sins.
Part of the purpose of the church is to give us a place to tell the truth. In my youth, we had “testimony” services on Wednesday night. People would stand and tell-all. Some of them should have written books. “It’s been a difficult week. I have fallen short this week, but the grace of God still proves sufficient.” I’ll never forget Sister Wendell saying, “I believe God loves my husband, and Lord knows, I am trying to, but I have failed this week. I think I’m going to kill him.” 🙂 And in those confessions, healing came, joy came. “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty.” (Psalm 32:2)
But somewhere along the way, the testimonies stopped. The confessions came to a halt. We started making sure we were dressed in our Sunday best and put on a good front. I think that’s part of why mega-churches began to appear, it was easier to hide our nakedness in the huge crowd. Tele-evangelists started telling us it was all about prosperity. Preachers started getting their hair done and became bigger-than-life personalities. We even invented smoke machines and started keeping the auditorium dark, so that the people on the stage could be seen and the ones in the pews could hide. And Christian counselors popped up to help with the paranoia, the anxiety, the depression, that sprang up from the heaviness of all of that unconfessed sin. (Well, thank God for THAT!)
“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” (Psalm 32:5) There is nothing wrong with mega-churches or well-groomed preachers. Not everybody needs to write a book. And we certainly don’t need to go back to the long, boring, Wednesday night testimony services. Our confession before God is all that is needed for salvation. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) But, first, we need to make sure that we DO confess our sins to Him. And secondly, there is a measure of healing in speaking the truth to human beings. “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you might be healed.” (James 5:16) Back to the 12 Steps, “We confessed the nature of our disease to God, to ourselves, and to one other person.”
May we see this week, the church as a place where I can be honest, tell-all about me, and know the “joy of those whose disobedience has been forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight.’ (Psalm 32:1)
Read today: Psalm 32, Proverbs 17, and Romans 1:1-17
And tell somebody your story. 🙂