On Mondays our church does a food pantry for folks in the neighborhood. It’s a great way for us to meet a practical need, while at the same time, build relationships with folks who might not otherwise come in to a church building. This past Monday was no exception, and I found myself having a conversation with a woman that I’ve seen around the neighborhood, but haven’t had the chance to talk with. Once she found out that I was the pastor of the church, she asked if it was ok for her to confess some things to me. I explained that I wasn’t a priest - if that’s what she was looking for - but that I was happy to listen to whatever she wanted to talk about. She responded by saying, “Well, I’ve always heard that confession is good for the soul, so I want to give it a try!”
With those words, she went on to confess over 10 years worth of transgressions. It was an interesting conversation, filled with colorful stories, many of which I had to insist she not give me the details on. At the end of the conversation, she shook my hand, gave me a big smile, and said, “I'm really glad we had this talk, I feel so much better! Can we do it again next week?” I told her I was happy to talk again, and then encouraged her to spend some time in prayer, telling God the same things she had just told me. And as she walked away, I couldn't help but agree with her statement about confession: it is good for us.
However, I’m not the first one to make this observation. In Psalm 51:10 King David writes, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.” Many of us are familiar with King David - he's the shepherd boy who brought down Goliath, and went on to be a great king. He's described as a “man after God's own heart”. But he's also the man who had an affair with a married woman, got her pregnant, and then sent her husband off to the front lines of battle to be killed so that David’s sin wouldn't be discovered. He was like many of us - he loved God, and pursued Him - but just like us, he found himself sinning more often than he wanted to. But what David also knew was that God was a God of forgiveness, and by confessing his sins, he could be restored to God. And what was true for David is true for us as well - we need to be people of confession.
As a kid, I heard the gospel message presented using the analogy of a house where Jesus was standing at the door knocking, and we needed to open the door and invite Him in. As I’ve thought about it over the years. I’ve realized that it’s actually a good analogy. But it goes beyond the scene at the front door - all too often, we only want to allow God into the living room of our “spiritual houses”. We invite Him in, but then we work really hard to keep Him out of the basement where all the junk is stored - or out of the bedroom where we keep our private selves. But here's the truth we can often miss: God wants to be in every part of our lives. He wants to fully inhabit us because He wants to break the grip that Satan has on the different parts of our lives - things like gossip and lust and jealousy and impatience and selfishness. God wants to clear away all the sinful junk we hold on to, and make us completely His, and completely free.
Even though his heart was crushed by his shame and sorrow, David knew the great magnitude of Gods' mercy, and so that's where he started in confessing his sin. And that's where we need to start as well. No matter what our sin is, and no matter how long it's been since we've talked to God about it, we need to begin by remembering the magnitude of His mercy. So today, let's be people of confession. Let's take time to get quiet with God and tell Him our sins, and ask for forgiveness. Let's allow Him to clean us all the way down to the deepest corners of our lives. Let's surrender to Him fully, knowing that we can fully experience His freedom.