So, here’s the latest #standorfall. You may have noticed that it’s not coming at the usual time. My excuse is that sleep isn’t coming at the usual time either, and my week’s suffered as a result 🙂
But anyway, this week, I’m focusing on confession.
This song kind of sums up one of the main ideas about confession. We fail time and again, and God’s mercy remains. That means confession is necessary, because we keep failing, and worthwhile, because God is merciful.
I have a confession wall. No, it’s not a wall where I write down everything I’ve done wrong (we don’t have any walls big enough, quite apart from anything else!). It’s a wall that has a couple of pictures on to help me remember two important things about confession. The first picture is this:
For those of you who aren’t Star Wars fans, let me just explain briefly. This is Anakin Skywalker as a child. During the course of the films, he grows up (in itself, this is not surprising, given the passage of time). By the time we meet him in later life, he’s turned into Darth Vader (a baddie). The shadow in this picture is Darth Vader’s, not the shadow of a child. This picture reminds me that, when the light shines on us, sometimes it shows up the dark parts of our lives, the bits we’d rather not show; times when we have turned away from living God’s way. (Ok, so this picture might not work for everyone, but it does for me!) In confession, I need to be honest about the things in my life that fall short of God’s standard. I need to shine His light on my life.
The other picture is this:
Because confession isn’t about wringing your hands and hoping for the best, it’s about forgiveness. As we come to our merciful Father, He is gracious and forgives us. It has taken something quite remarkable for God to forgive us. He made the sacrifice that our forgiveness required. Equally, we should forgive others with the same determination.
I need to take confession seriously because God’s standard is perfection, and my achievement is far lower. I love to take confession seriously because it’s a way of coming back to a loving heavenly Father who wants nothing to get in the way of my relationship with Him.
So over the next few days, I’ll be trying to take confession more seriously. When I do, it helps me to raise my standards (it saves time in confession if I’ve followed God more closely!). I will this prayer to help me.
Most merciful God,
we confess to you,
before the whole company of heaven and one another,
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed
and in what we have failed to do.
Forgive us our sins,
heal us by your Spirit
and raise us to new life in Christ. Amen.
Because by using this prayer, I find I’m reminded not just of what I do in confession, but of what God can and does do in me. This leads me into worship, as I am reminded of God’s merciful character.
Isn’t it staggering to think that God welcomes us back time and again when we come humbly to Him in confession? That tells me I’ve got a lot to learn in my relationships with others, particularly my own children.
I’d like to say loads more about confession – how important a part of our relationship with God it is; how I’m staggered the more I think about it; how I need to find people to whom and with whom I can humbly confess my failings; … but for the sake of brevity I’ll stop there, and perhaps post other things in the fullness of time.
Do you take time to confess to God regularly, or do you, like me, tend to wait until you do something that feels bad enough to warrant a proper ‘apology’?
1] From ‘An Order for Night Prayer’ in Common Worship (2000) The Archbishop’s Council, Church House Publishing.