Devotional Thought of the Day:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (NLT)
240 Ask for light. Insist on it … until the root is laid bare and you can get at it with your battle-axe: the particular examination.
I know a lot of men who can make a valid claim to bravery. Some are those who faced the enemies of our nation, like my father. Others work the inner city streets and the jails. Some armed as police and sheriff, others who go into those same streets with a Bible, and the sacraments that will help bring healing. I know others who are brave in a different way, as they face challenges of health such as cancer or Alzheimer’s or the death of a loved one.
But even in the midst of courage, there are few people who are willing to take another step that requires great courage, even though what is promised is a blessing, not some danger. Though to do so will result in a change in our lives as great as those who battle external or internal enemies.
The courage to examine one’s conscience, to let God look inside us, diagnose our sin, and go about cleansing us, healing us.
It takes courage to bare our souls to God, yet it is something we need to do and do often. We overlook it, perhaps out of fear that quenches our courage. A fear that God might break His promise, and not lead us into everlasting life. Perhaps even a greater fear, that God will take a part of our lives, and remove it, change it, remind us that it isn’t good for us. Parts of our lives that cause great shame, that we think cause pleasure, and may for our instant. Or parts that make us feel superior to others, or give us power and control.
Our fear of confession, of the self-examination that scripture encourages, may also come because of a fear of intimacy. Many of us, not only men, are afraid of that word. We are truly afraid of it when God is the one driving the intimacy, who wants to know every nook and cranny of our lives. He wants to, not to break us, but to heal our brokenness. That means letting Him plunge into the deep dark places in us. We need to let Him see the parts of us that we don’t want to admit exists, the narcissistic, dark places of our hearts and minds.
It takes more than faith, it takes courage. It also takes encouragement, which is why I think the blessing of confession and absolution is so needed. It is why Luther prayed that private confession would never fall into disuse. It is why I rejoice when I hear of churches that have lines, waiting for people to receive the blessing that comes from self-examination and letting God show you where He is working in your life.
For God is working there. He isn’t restricted to the good and joyous parts of your life. He isn’t just helping you know what you should do, or where you should go. He’s not just giving you the gifts you need to serve His people, or guiding theologians in their pondering of things mystical and mysterious. He is not just declaring you righteous and holy, He is at work, crafting a masterpiece, getting rid of that which mars and ruins the depth of the masterpiece.
He is healing you, where you need to be healed.
Just like He is doing in my life.
If you have the courage, go to you pastor, your priest. Ask them for guidance in this, ask them to hear your confession, to tell you God is forgiving you. That is what they are there for; it is something that is a great blessing to them as well.
You weren’t meant to do this alone… God is there…for you. And he’s put men there to be for you as well.
To help you see the height, depth, width and breadth of His love, revealed in Christ Jesus.
So come, take courage, and let God work in you!
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 648-649). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.