I once listened to a lovely woman I know describe her relationship with God as like being in the freezing cold Pacific oceanwater, wading in deeper and deeper; that it was painful to be there because of the cold, but good. Painful, but good. I remember thinking she was so beautiful, but not understanding what she meant at all. How could wading in deeper to God be painful?
I get it now.
I’ve been in Pichilemu for two weeks, I came with a strong, clear, promise from God that He was going to do a work of healing in my life here. That by learning how to counsel others He was going to counsel me, comfort me, restore me. So far, my classes have been brilliant. An important principle that we’ve been learning is that as counselors, we need to be able to differentiate between wounds, and sins. We’ve all been wounded, and for those wounds a person needs to receive healing. We’ve all also sinned, but for that we need repentence.
Many of my classmates seem to be dealing a lot with the places inside of them that have been hurt, and that is what I anticipated that God was going to be doing in me as well. Well.. He’s spent the past few years working on healing those wounds in me, what I’m experiencing is that NOW He’s showing me how those wounds have influenced me and caused me to sin. God is revealing to me sin after sin that I struggle with, and even sins I have struggled with in the past. Why?
So that I can repent. Confess.
I’ve always maintained that 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (KJV) refers to confessing our sins to God. But I’m learning I was wrong. God wants us to confess our sins not only to Him but to other people as well. And why would God want us to do such a thing as that?
Because it heals. And it humbles.
There are sins in me that have laid there buried and forgotten for years, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to remain there. And there are other sins that I struggle with everyday. Criticzing myself, criticizing others, being arrogant, and a whole lot more. Through confession I have the opportunity to give God permission to work on those areas of my life, and to take away satan’s authority to use them against me.
I experienced this for the first time a few days ago. My three pastoras and I sat in a circle, and I imagined a fire was there in the middle of us, and that with everything that I confessed to them and to God I was throwing it into that fire, getting it out of me, and giving it to God to destroy. I took some really ugly things out of me, I want you to know. Things I didn’t want to ever admit to anybody. But I did it. It took some time, and a lot of crying, but you know what?
It was beautiful.
God is purifying me, refining me, making me into a living sacrifice for Him, holy and pleasing in His sight. And just like walking into that icy oceanwater that stings and hurts, it’s not easy. It’s actually really painful to see those things inside of myself, to confess them, and to allow God to change them.
It’s painful, but it’s good.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1
My baptism, August 2006. Five years later and I’m still wading in daily, allowing Him to cleanse me of all that keeps me from being His holy bride.