March 18 Devotional
Opening Prayer: Here in the presence of Almighty God, I kneel in silence, and with penitent and obedient heart confess my sins, so that I may obtain forgiveness by your infinite goodness and mercy. Amen. - The Book of Common Prayer
Scripture Reading for the Day: Psalm 32:1-11
Journal: What has been your experience with the practice of confession? Are there things within you right now that are taking up all the space that God longs to occupy? How might confession open up space within you for God to speak and act? What are the things you need to confess before God this day?
I want to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere do I want to remain folded,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
A few years ago, at the end of a retreat I was leading, I got into a wonderful conversation with a dear friend about all that God was up to in our lives. And somewhere in the midst of the conversation he asked me a great question: “Do you have any secrets?” The tone and the spirit of the question was not at all threatening or judgmental or harsh, but rather easy and free and filled with care. And I clearly remember being delighted with the answer that arose from deep within me. “You know,” I said, “I really don’t.” And something really wonderful was struck deep within me, not only by the answer, but also by the question. Because deep in my heart I have a desire to live openly, unfolded, before God and before the folks in my life and world, and this question was an invitation to do just that.
I’ve been thinking about confession a lot lately, and the role it plays in our life with God. So many times I have viewed confession as a shame-filled, guilt-laden process that no one in their right mind would want to perform on any kind of regular basis. But I’m beginning to think that I had it all wrong. Confession is not a practice that is meant to produce guilt and fear and shame, but one that holds within it the possibility of living truly and freely and wholly (or holy) before God and before one another. Confession is meant to produce life and space and freedom within us. When I stand open before God and allow him to see all of me (which he already sees anyway), it does something beautiful deep within my soul. It opens the possibility for intimacy and communication and growth (i.e., real relationship). It allows him to help me clean my “inner room” of all of the junk and mess and clutter that fills the landscape of my soul and takes up room that God alone was meant to inhabit. It unfolds me. Because living folded, closed, and hiding is not really life at all, but only a fear-filled lie. And we all know that: There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)
So I’m hoping that from this day forward I will begin to see confession in a new way; as an invitation and an opportunity rather than a duty and obligation. An invitation from my loving Father to live before him openly, freely, and unfolded. Thanks be to God!
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Paul G. is the International Director of Training for Christar and also serves as an Internet pastor. Paul and Nancy founded an NGO, The Oomit Corporation (“Oomit” means “hope”), to work in Central Asia with special needs children. Oomit brings the light of Jesus to a spiritually dark place so that families might have hope. Pray today for provision for Paul and Nancy and for those whom they are training.
Choices Resource Center is a Christian, life-affirming pregnancy resource center offering services to help people facing decisions regarding pregnancy, parenting, purity, and post abortion healing. Pray today for each young woman who will visit this center this week.
Closing Prayer: Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be - you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky - God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone - my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.
These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck. Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight: “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.” God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around.
Celebrate God. Sing together - everyone! All you honest hearts, raise the roof! (Psalm 32:1-11, The Message)