Have you ever had
a conversation with someone only to realize how distant that person was from
God. It is a humbling and saddening experience. I wonder sometimes if that
is how God sees us. “We are all like an unclean thing. And all our righteousness
is like filthy rags . . . and our iniquities , like the wind have taken us away”
(64:6). Truly, from God’s perspective, we are all so far away from him.
This was the case
for the post-exilic Israel of Isaiah 64. Sandwiched between the hope of chapters
60-62 and chapters 65-66, Isaiah 63-64 expresses the voice of a penitent community(b), a
community separated from God and in need of reconciliation. Confession brings
healing. This conflict-ridden community desperately needed healing, hope, and
cleansing as they awaited a new work from the Lord. So do we.
As we anticipate
the celebration of the birth of our Lord, we would do well to examine ourselves.
Are we ready for his presence this Christmas? As we ask the Lord to search
our hearts, we will also see that we need to enter into his presence, be still
and confess. Confession brings healing. What a wonderful Christmas gift that
would be. Isaiah quickly realized this when he met God during his visionary
account of chapter 6. In response to the holy presence of almighty God, Isaiah
sees his true sinful self. He is cleansed and commissioned by God to preach
the prophetic message. His cleansing empowered him to reply, “Here am
I, send me”(6:8), and to fulfil God’s agenda. Oh how we too need cleansing.
Only when we enter into confession, can we see our true nature and experience
the freeing grace that enables us to live fully in God’s presence.
Confession is admitting
who we really are to ourselves and to God. It is not easy and often terrifying.
I am inspired by my 5 year old son, Nathaniel, who recently confessed that he
poked a hole into a ball and broke it at preschool. After he confessed to
me, I asked him if he told his teacher. His response was so convicting. “I
was scared, but I told her,” he said. Isn’t this so true in our lives?
Confession is scary, but this 5 year old child did it anyway, because
he knew that it was right. What a sense of relief follows when we do what is
right. I was thankful that Nathaniel’s teacher responded with grace, and as
Nathaniel relayed, “She didn’t even get mad.” What a beautiful picture
of our loving Lord who longs to heal us through confession.
we often face barriers to confession such as fear, pride, complacency, disobedience,
enjoying sin, spiritual blindness, blind to our own sin, etc. Perhaps you can
think of others. I suggest the following steps in overcoming these barriers
to confession. 1) Enter into God’s presence. Don’t wait to be or “feel” clean
and worthy. Let Isaiah 6 be your model, whether it is through prayer, bible
study, or personal worship in song. 2) Let Ephesians 1:18, “that the eyes
of your understanding be enlightened,” be the prayer of your heart and your
focus throughout the day. 3) Spend time in confession. You may confess by
writing out a sin list, asking and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal hidden
sins of the heart. You may prefer to confess to an accountability partner who
will encourage you and pray for you. You may choose to talk out loud to God,
confessing your sins as they come to mind, or journal your thoughts in the form
of written prayer of confession. 4) Memorize scripture that encourages confession.
5) Meditate on spiritual growth books such as Richard Foster’s Celebration
of Discipline or Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart.1
6) Remember that confession brings healing. He is the
potter and we are the clay (64:8). Let the Lord have his way with you as you
prepare for this Christmas season.
brief provided by: Paula Fontana Qualls, Associate Professor
of Religion at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
(New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998); Dallas Willard, Renovation
of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ (Colorado Springs: NavPress,