Monday, July 28, 2014


I have been working on a life-long confession, the final exercise in Brian Rice's book, What's Gone Wrong?

The Exercises Volume Four: What's Gone Wrong

After 42 lessons on sin, most of which included reflection and self-examination, I'm beginning to get a grasp on my own sin tendencies, my basic brokenness, and my propensity for coddling the flesh. I say "beginning to get a grasp" because I'm not sure its possible to fully understand the grotesque reality of my own depravity. I'm not sure I can comprehend the horror that I am. But I'm working hard to acknowledge whatever the Lord chooses to reveal. To stare the ugly monster in the eyes. To grieve over the damage it's doing and done.

So many times during these lessons, I wanted to gloss over the work. To skim the surface and avoid the depths, as if ignoring my sin could make it magically disappear. Because I believe that ALL my sins, past, present, and future, have been nailed to the cross, I can convince myself that I don't have to bother naming them. But in leaving them ambiguous and unidentified, I run the risk of staying enslaved to them. Like an un-diagnosed disease, they keep infecting me even if they no longer have the power to kill me. And when I'm infected with sin, I'm not the only one who suffers for it.

Photo Credit: Jordan Egli Photography
And sin is slippery. The Bible tell me that the heart is deceitful, which means it's very easy for me to lie to myself about how messed up I am. It's easy for me to make much of the wounds I receive from others while remaining oblivious to the wounds I've afflicted.

But lest you imagine that this study has been depressing, I guarantee that has not been the case. Painful, yes. Like having splinters of various shapes and sizes removed from all over my body. And some of those splinters were pretty infected. But would you ever say,"That nurse pulled out a doozy of a splinter, and now I am so depressed!"? NO! Never! I may be in pain, and have a lot of tender spots, but I'm thankful to be free from the splinters.

And when the gentle healer comes (how I love him!), he pours out his kindness into the open wound of my conviction. His kindness leads me to repentance, and through repentance I discover the transforming work of his Spirit.

The sad thing is this: The day I do my "whole life confession" I'll probably sin again. And again. I have not learned to fully avoid the sin-splinters. But I have learned several things, like the circumstances where I am most likely to get splinters, and what it feels like to have splinters, and how to get free from splinters before they get infected and contagious.

Mostly, I've learned how easily I can be tempted to coddle the splinter, or justify the splinter, or rationalize the splinter, rather than let Jesus remove it. Jesus paid it all--but not so that I can keep on living the way I always lived while cherishing the hope of heaven. He paid it all so that right now--today--I can find freedom and healing from sin.

In the meantime, I live in process. I ask Jesus to help me see my sin as he sees it. I fully confess, fall, and fully confess again. I get self-righteous as I see unattended specks in other peoples' eyes, only to be reminded of the plank in my own. And in the un-comfortableness of such realizations, I forget that it is a gift to be aware of both specks and planks and an even greater gift to be liberated from them.

Sometimes I look back nostalgically on the days when I did not bother with careful reflection, in-depth self-examination, and genuine confessions. And then I remember that just because I don't see the cancer, it doesn't mean it isn't destroying me. I remember the Great Physician. And I say, "Okay Doc, give it to me straight." I brace myself for the worst, and when conviction comes gently, I submit myself willingly to his care. He always makes me well.

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