He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13
In 1976 Marty and I moved to a house in the woods near a tiny town in Michigan. Knowing there was wildlife all around, I was always on the lookout for deer, foxes, raccoons – anything interesting (except skunks. That I could pass up, thank you.).
After a while I was disappointed by the lack of sightings, so I began tossing food scraps into our yard every night after dinner, hoping to spot a hungry critter. Ever morning the scraps had disappeared, but I was never able to spot a single creature, and usually the snow had been falling lightly but steadily all night enough to cover up any tracks.
Since I am not the kind of person who can stare at nature all winter, I got involved with the local high school students. Before I knew it a youth group made up of about a dozen kids was meeting in my living room every week. By March they wanted to share their faith with their friends from school, so we planned a special night of outreach – fondue, music, and a message at the end. The students invited all their friends and posted announcements about it at school.
Finally the big day arrived, and while the students were at school, I was busy getting everything ready. I bought the ingredients and got out the equipment for the fondue and cleaned the house til it sparkled. I wanted everything to be perfect.
As the time for the party approached, I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself, when I realized I was missing one ingredient for the fondue. No big deal, I thought as I headed out the door for a quick run into town.
Suddenly I froze in horror.
That day had been unseasonably warm, and the snow that had been accumulating all winter was fast melting away. And throughout the yard, everywhere I looked was …
Apple cores, potato peelings, eggshells, bread crusts broccoli stems, you name it. All over the yard. The animals hadn’t eaten it. It had just been covered up every night by the steadily falling snow!
So much for perfection.
Have you ever had one of those moments? Things you thought no one would ever know about – maybe things you didn’t even know about – are suddenly out in the open for all to see?
The Bible says a day like that will come, when every moment of bad judgment, wrong words, thoughts, motives, and deeds will be brought to light – and judged by a holy God. How scary is that, especially since we have all made more bad decisions than we can count? “Who can endure the day of his coming?” (Malachi 3:2a)
If having company see your house surrounded in garbage is embarrassing, imagine having the whole universe see … (You fill in the blanks.)
That night in 1977 I was scrambling to clean up my yard, but it will take much more than a rake and a garbage bag to undo a lifetime of sins and mistakes.
Well, there’s good news: It has been done! When Jesus Christ was nailed to that cross 2000 years ago, He was paying the penalty for every bad decision you and I have ever made. In fact, when He cried “It is finished!” He was declaring, literally, “Paid in full.”
If we believe that His death paid for our sins, why on earth would we try to cover them up?
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9)
If confessing our sins means the slate is clean, why would we not confess? If repentance means that when God looks at you, He sees not the garbage in your life but a soul washed clean, why would we want to hang on to the thing that separates us from Him?
Is there a mess in your life that you are hiding? If so, are you going to keep trying to cover it up, or will you confess your mess and ask the Lord for His help?
I recommend the latter.
(Excerpted from BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?) copyright 2015 by Ann Aschauer)