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This Could Take A While  

Does your church offer theatre seating, big screens and lighting effects? Sam’s does.  He’s eight. 

What is not typical for Sam is the Presbyterian church where his grandfather, Toby, serves as pastor. No fog machines or strobes. What Sam saw and heard there was more muted and less produced. Call it high liturgy.

Pastor Toby recalls, “Twenty minutes into the service, the congregation fell silent. Sam did not understand the ritual called Confession of Sins.”

Sam wondered. Was he supposed to be doing something? And how was he even supposed to know? Sam was definitely out of his element. As a worship leader in front led this part of the service, Pastor Toby nestled up against young Sam, who whispered, “Papa, what’s happening?”

Toby recalls, “I said to Sam, ‘This is the time we confess our sins, silently.’” His eyes suggested he was trying to comprehend the enormity of this task. He thought for a moment, then finally whispered, “Hmm, this could take a while.” With that, he bowed his head to get started on the grocery list of his sins.

There’s something refreshing about Sam’s response, “This could take a while.”  Hear his humility?

A footnote on forgiveness: we should not judge young Sam or anyone else if their list seems longer than ours. If we could see the whole of our sin as God does, we would finally know how dark the darkness inside us really is.

But I wonder if some of us are resistant to the discipline of confession because we presume that our admission of guilt will invite the Almighty to unleash a tongue lashing. Criticism, condemnation, anger. That’s what we, in our warped thinking, perhaps expect.

Not so. Not at all. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Notice the absence of any condemnation! On the contrary, as the prophet Micah says, He delights “to show mercy” (7:18).

Is it possible that you and I have been listening for years or even decades to a lie? Could it be we’ve labored under a load of guilt we’ve created in our minds? This idea that God is angry with us or disappointed in us or running out of patience with us as we confess sin—it’s not true! This is the whisper of an ancient serpent.

It’s time to tell the serpent, “It is written . . .”

It’s time to tell Jesus “the list.” All of it. Every fault. Every failing. Even if it “takes a while!”

 

 

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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Jon Gauger Media 2016