This past week our Pastor began a series on the Biblical letter 1 John, which is believed to have been written to first century Christians. An immediate emphasis in the first chapter is an admonition to acknowledge that everyone, even those who claim to have fellowship with God, has sin in their life. John even goes further and underscores not only the need for confession of our sins…but also two great benefits…forgiveness and purification. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
My understanding of the key words:
Confession…of our sins, with honesty and transparency, exhibits that we are looking upon sin the same way that God does. If we don’t view sin the way God does we will not see a need to confess. Sin... in the context of 1 John chapter 1, can be understood as “missing the mark”. The “mark” is God’s divine standard or norm. It can also be viewed as “rebellion”…meaning to consciously deviate from God’s standard. Forgiveness…God is choosing to “lay it aside”, “let it go”. He is extending His grace (undeserved favor-getting what we don’t deserve) and mercy (not getting what we do deserve) to us, the confessing, repentant sinners. We don’t deserve to be forgiven, yet God offers it to us anyway. Purify…we will be released from the bondage of the sin in our lives when we acknowledge and confess our sins.
As the Pastor spoke, tears filled my eyes remembering that two years ago to the day I was being confronted with the consequences of my rebellion. Unconfessed sin in my life was being laid out in front of me in a very personal and public way. I had to face the truth that I did not view sin as God does; I missed the mark; I was in rebellion against God and I was in bondage to sin. Because I did not want to face any of these truths I entered into a deep depression.
But it was in the midst of that depression that I found love.
I found that honest confession brought freedom from bondage. It brought a new understanding of what it means to be in submission to God rather than being in rebellion against Him. And it brought forgiveness from family, friends and God. Receiving their forgiveness was key…forgiveness is the expression of love that brought me out of depression.
After the church service last Sunday I decided to look back in my journal and found that for almost that entire first year my thoughts were mostly dark and depressed. I wrote things like: “Traveling through a dark tunnel.” “Depression has returned.” “Lord, please not another day. Not another sunrise! Just let me sleep.” “God help me…please!” Then… almost exactly one year ago to the day, November 1, 2014, I saw that I wrote this in my journal:
“God has placed me in a desert the past year. He had to in order to get my attention. I was headed for certain destruction. He saved me!”
The very next day, November 2, 2014, I made a list of those “things” in my life that I love. I was awakened to the realization that the desert was actually filled with life-giving water that I had not been able to see. I was blinded by my desire for secrecy and a longing to reinstall the mask of deception. I realized that in my depression I actually preferred the bondage to sin over the freedom offered to me through confession and transparency. I determined not to accept that any longer!
I wrote in my journal: (there are over two pages, however I will only list a few here)
“I love: My Caroline, my children, my grandchildren, my Denise and Lin and Dan and so many other family and friends. I love their unconditional love for me. I love the rising sun, feeling the warmth on my face and thinking about the prospects of a new day. I love hikes in the woods. I love to see flowers blooming in the Spring. I love cross-country skiing on a crisp, cold winter day. I love the stillness in the woods when you can actually hear snowflakes falling on the trees. I love Smokey (my cat) sleeping on my lap and Toby’s (my dog) excitement when he see’s me. I love hearing the wind blow through the trees. I love reading books that inspire me to be a better person. I love projects. I love fixing the broken. I love seeing how much our kids love Caroline. I love thinking about the potential of a seed; then planting it and seeing that potential realized. I love the ability to love and to be loved…………
I wrote much more and I can tell you it was a turning point for me. The life-giving water began to flow and the desert began to bloom. There are still moments of sadness. I am still, as are you, in the “desert-of-this-world”…but it is now, again, filled with hope. I can see past the desert to the purpose for which I was created…and the world beyond… To know Him…and to make Him known.
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
PS Many of you reading this post are those who have walked beside me on this journey, and continue to do so. If I have not told you recently…I tell you now…I love you. Thank you for loving me.