Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Sirens of Confession and Grace
1 John 1:8-10
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
When I was a kid a friend of mine that lived up the street from me had the most amazing toy that a boy could ever dream of. This thing was a megaphone for your bicycle, but it wasn’t just any megaphone, it was a siren and a megaphone. This device had a switch that allowed you to make the sound of a siren; it had the sound of a fire truck, a police car, and an ambulance, or you could simply amplify your own voice using the microphone that was attached to it. It was awesome! I still wish that I had something like this. It was a lot of fun.
Once I asked my friend if I could borrow his amazing device before he was scheduled to go out of town with his dad. I didn’t think that he would miss it and I was hoping to give it some use while he was gone. He agreed and let me borrow it and I played with this thing every day, and then, I broke the switch. I didn’t mean to break it, it just sort of happened. It came off in my hand seemingly without any cause. I guess I didn’t know my own strength. I was horrified at what I had done. For an eight year old this was the end of the world. “What would happen when my friend found out?” I wondered. Here it is that he trusted me and I let him down. I could not sleep and lost my appetite thinking about what I had done. I knew I had to tell him and I wouldn’t rest until I did.
When I thought that my buddy had returned home, I gathered all the courage and strength that I could muster and I took the megaphone to his house. I was terrified at what would happen. I would have to pay for his toy, I thought, or even worse, I would lose a good friend. When I got to the door I was so afraid. I knocked before I could think twice. His mom answered the door and welcomed me. My friend was not back yet. I shyly told her what had happened and how sorry I was for breaking the toy. She gently took it from my hand and assured me that it was ok and that she forgave me. I offered to pay for it or work to make it right, and she said that there would be no need and that there was nothing that I needed to do. She was so kind and gentle toward me and I can still remember her smile.
This was one of my very first encounters with grace, confession, and forgiveness. I have always carried this life lesson with me and will continue to carry this throughout my life. This event shaped me and continues to shape me to this day.
Years later in High School when I was working as a cabinet maker at a local cabinet shop I had an accident at a customer’s home. I had accidentally bumped her SUV mirror with our delivery truck. It was not at all damaged and no one saw it, but deep down I knew that I had to tell her and my boss. I remembered the siren, I heard its call. I had the same feelings going on in me that I had when I was a kid. I went in and let the customer know what had happened and said that I would walk her out and show her where I had hit her mirror. She said that there would be no need because I had just told her that everything was ok and that she trusted my word. All was forgiven. I was moved once again and the lesson became even further ingrained into my being. Confession is right.
Some of the major feelings that I felt after these two incidents were that of thanksgiving, freedom, release, joy, relief, and humility, just to name a few. Having come forward and come clean, I got the blessing of experiencing grace and forgiveness. This wasn’t easy for me, but without my confession, these feelings and this glorious grace and forgiveness that I received would not have been possible. If I would have hidden, or ran, or kept to myself, I would have been captive by my transgressions. I would have been a slave to my sins. They would have enslaved me to loneliness and despair, and distance from God and other people, kind of like the days leading up to the return of the siren and megaphone.
What we confess says a lot about what we believe.
Sounding and heeding the siren of confession and receiving His grace,
Confession: 1. Admission of wrongdoing, an admission of having done something wrong or embarrassing, 2. Admission of guilt, criminal law a voluntary written or verbal statement admitting the commission of a crime, 3. Open acknowledgment of feelings, a profession of emotions or beliefs such as love, loyalty, or faith, 4. Declaration of sins, Christianity a formal declaration of sins confidentially to a priest or to God, 5. Something admitted, something that is confessed or disclosed, 6. Declaration of beliefs or doctrines, religion a declaration of the beliefs or doctrines of a religious body, 7. Religious group sharing beliefs, Christianity a religious group that has a specific set of beliefs and practices (Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)).
Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)
The Holy Bible : King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995, S. 1 Jn 1:8-10