“In one long glorious acknowledgment of failure, he laid himself bare before God. ~John Grisham, The Testament
Let me remind us where we’ve been before I talk about confession. My guess is that as soon as you heard the word you hopped out of that comfortable, secure lap of love and went somewhere else.
Why do we do that?
I don’t know too many people–parents, teachers, close friends–who successfully correct our shortcomings. We don’t know how to fully love and discipline at the same time. Somewhere we’ve learned that withholding love while correcting will cause the receiver to really get their act together. We like to distribute fear.
Not sure where we learned that? Probably church, but I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Now, before we get carried away, God indeed disciplines. Consequences are real. We should not be left to ourselves while lounging in a lap of love. Revelation 3:19 says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” But notice that love comes first in this verse! Love always comes first with God.
That’s exactly what he taught me during my week of renewal. For four full days He poured on the love. He opened up His arms, lap, and welcomed me in. He invited all of me–flawed, tired, weirded out, and vulnerable.
But day five was when He threw down some truth. Opened my eyes. Not to other things or other people. No, He dealt with me.
It began while I read from Acts 3. I’ve been here before–Peter healing the beggar is a touching story. I’ve thought, Poor guy. Not able to walk or anything, but how awesome! He’s not only healed, but he’s jumping around and praising God.
The beggar has always been like an other thing, other people, until that sweet lap of God whispered, You’re the beggar.
Didn’t see that coming! Reality can hit us pretty suddenly. But those four days in His lap gave me the strength I needed to proceed through Acts 3 as the beggar and then at verse 19 I began to sense God was about to uncover the full reason for my week away.
“Repent, then, turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that time of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19
The word refreshing jump off the page, I was focused on renewal, and so I did a cross reference which led me to Psalm 51. I could tell there was more.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. ~Psalm 51
A helpless newborn baby… I wept in that lap because God lovingly revealed three areas where I had taken my eyes off of Him. I recognized that my joy had not been in the Lord. My joy had been elsewhere–my joy had been in three different areas than in the Lord.
Here’s the coolest part, though!
In my moment of awareness I felt safe enough to honestly confess, “Lord, three things! This is a lot. In the past I would try to pick myself up right now, wouldn’t I? And then I would fail and feel guilty. But I feel safe enough in your love right now to admit that I won’t be able to do this without your help. It will need to be You, not me.
And even there He did not shirk back. Withhold. He remained fully present. Fully available.
I shared Revelation 19 already, but allow me to add verse 20 this time:
19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Such a great picture of our Savior! While He rebukes and disciplines, He’s still coming inside for a meal with us. He’s still opening up His lap.
Confession, in the lap of love. No spa, body wrap, vacation, or scrub comes close to the renewal this place brings.
What do you need to confess today? He’s waiting… in love.
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)