this is the Lord’s declaration—
turn to me with all your heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts,
not just your clothes,
and return to the Lord your God.
For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger,
abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster.
Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave a blessing behind him,
so you can offer grain and wine
to the Lord your God.
Joel 2:12-14 (CSB)
I sat on my friend’s couch, looking at the sweet women in my small group. We were discussing the chapters we’d read in the last week, and it was time.
Nobody would know if I didn’t speak up. Though we’d been talking about the parts of the book that had encouraged and convicted us most, they had no idea how God had used one small paragraph to remove the scales from my eyes and pierce my heart with fiery truth. I didn’t have to confess. But it was time.
I took a deep breath and blurted it out. I told them how I’d thought of a friend who needed to read a specific point in our book — and how God had straightened me right up, making it clear in my heart that I was the one who needed that message. I told them how He’d brought to mind a situation in which I was the guilty party, in which I had deliberately disobeyed God’s commands.
Eyes downcast, I assured them I’d learned my lesson. I apologized, aware that I’d probably disappointed them. Their response was so kind. They understood how hard it can be to love others the way God calls us to. But like best friends do, they offered accountability alongside their grace and mercy. And in that moment, when they forgave me but didn’t excuse my actions, I realized how long it had been since I had sincerely confessed a sin.
Of course, I apologize for mistakes all the time. And certainly, in quiet moments in a church service or the carpool line or the shower, I might be hit with conviction. But in the same breath I utter a quick “sorry,” I immediately move into gratitude for forgiveness and fresh mercies, vowing to try harder and do better next time.
Facing my sin that morning, I saw clearly my need for true confession, for the fasting and weeping and mourning that comes when we recognize just how far from holy we are. Don’t get me wrong! I don’t think God intends for us to wallow in our regret, to stay stuck in the mud of our mistakes without hope or healing. He is, after all, a God of forgiveness and mercy. He’s a God who loves us so much He sent His Son to take the punishment for our sins. But if we don’t acknowledge our brokenness or the severity of our sins, if we shrug them off as no big deal or assume it’s all good because we are forgiven, we’re missing the point. We’re missing the point of what Jesus did for us on the cross, and we’re missing the blessing of feeling the weight of our sin lifted off of us.
If it’s been a while since confessing your sin caused you to mourn before you rejoiced over God’s grace, I invite you to join me in a posture of humble repentance this Lent season. Let’s spend the next few weeks reflecting on God’s goodness while also taking a hard look at ourselves. And when we see all the ways we fall short of the glory of God, let’s not sweep our grief or waywardness under the carpet. Let’s be honest about it and believe that we aren’t bearing the burden of them ourselves — God bore them for us on the cross. Let’s allow that reality to sink in.
Let us prepare for the wonder of the resurrection by remembering just how much we need it. Let us turn to the Lord with hearts truly broken over our transgressions, more grateful than ever for His abounding love and forgiveness.
Let’s pray together.
God, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I’ve taken Your lavish grace for granted, overlooking and underestimating my sin. Please forgive me. Please bring to mind the things I need to confess and give me the courage to turn them over to You. Thank You, Lord, for loving me so much that You died for my every sin. Thank You for not being content to leave me in my mess, for remembering me even when I forget how much I need You. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.
Excerpt from Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter by Mary Carver.
If you feel a pull to journey during this season of Lent, it’s not too late! Get your copy of Journey to the Cross here (with FREE shipping!) and start in. It’s never too late to spend intentional time with the Lord, getting ready for Easter. With Journey to the Cross, you’ll experience forty days of encouragement and guided Scripture, reflections, and prayers — and your heart will be ready to celebrate the risen Christ on Easter Sunday.
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Let us prepare for the wonder of the resurrection by remembering just how much we need it. #journeytothecross #lent -@marycarver: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I’ve been enjoying reading “Journey to the Cross.” This particular post convicted my heart. I don’t think we can truly appreciate the resurrection unless we grasp the gravity of our sin. I, too, need a reality check. It’s easy to fall into the thinking that I’m not this terrible sinful person, but sin is sin and when I think of all the times my pride, lack of patience, self-sufficiency, anxiousness, callousness creeps in, it begins to build into a big ball of sin. It’s easy to mutter a quick, “Sorry Lord,” and move on. God’s grace is lavish. It never ends. We could commit a million sins and God would forgive us each time we repent, but I don’t want to abuse His grace. I don’t want to take sin so lightly that I commit sin after sin knowing that God will forgive me. Joining with you in confessing my sin to God and confessing it to those who will hold me accountable. Only then can we truly experience the wonder of the resurrection. Great post!
Mary Carver says
I’m glad you’re enjoying the book, Bev! Thank you for sharing part of your journey to the cross with us here.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Even more so at this time with this Coronavarius. We need to keep our eyes Mary on the Cross. Not get carried away by the Coronavarius. Yes I know it is serious. But we can forget what Jesus did for us on that Cross. Plus why Jesus went to Clavary for us shed he blood for us. Which cleanses us of all sin. Plus keep us safe. We should be applying the blood of Jesus that was shed for over our homes ourselves our cars our family’s. Plus for our projection. Putting on the Armor of God in Eph 6 every day and reading Psalm 91 every day putting our names into that psalm also. Especially at this time of the Coronavarius and never stop doing this when the Coronavarius is over and things have gone back to normal. If they ever will. Only God know when that will be. If that will be. But we are keep trusting God no matter what. Trust his word the Bible and keep Praying plus the Promises in the Bible. Especially for thoses that have lost loves ones over the Coronavarius. That it will make more people think about how serious it is and there needs to get saved. Plus the Health care workers all over the world at this times caring for all the sick at this time. Those with it and those without it. For family’s who have very sick people who have been told they cannot have their treatment because of the Coronavarius. To just stay at home. That they will not panic. People to stop panic buying. We are to keep trusting Jesus and hand all our worries and cares at the foot of the Cross. Trust Jesus no matter what. Let get back to the Cross why God sent his son to die for us. Shed his blood. For us that heals everything. As the songs says you get it on Youtube. Burdens are lifed at Clavary Jesus is very near. How True that is. Especially at this time for everyone all around the World. No Greater Love Did God Give us by giving us is son to die on the Cross. John 3 verse 16 For God So Love The World He Gave He One And Only Son. That says it all. Dawn Ferguson-Little. Love today’s reading xxx
Mary Geisen says
I have been reading Journey to the Cross and love how pertinent it is to the season our world is currently facing. I can’t help but think that God not only knew what we would face but placing the pandemic into the season of Lent shows us again of God’s perfect timing. As I journey to the cross I can rest in God’s presence. I can hold onto the truth that God is forgiving and redeeming. Finally, we all can feel safe in the victory of Jesus secured through His death and resurrection.
Mary Carver says
Yes, Mary, He knew how much we’d need this particular encouragement and truth from him. I shared one of the devos on instagram last week because it was so helpful to me during this exact time!
Thank you so much Mary this really spoke to my heart this morning and I did confess my sin and asked Jesus to change my heart. I am so glad God is willing and able to forgive us of our sins. May the Lord Bless you.
Mary Carver says
So glad this was an encouragement to you, Julia!
This is why I love the sacrament of reconciliation. It keeps you on your toes, and then washes you clean with the unmistakable touch of love from Jesus. Even if you don’t go to in-person confession with a pastor, there are great resources for getting in touch with yourself and taking a look at your actions. Within this link is another link to a second kind of examination. These have been invaluable to me. God bless you all.
Mary Carver says
Thank you for sharing this, Malissa.
Beth Williams says
I thought I posted here, Oh well. I personally don’t think most people realize just exactly what God did for us in sacrificing His only son. Jesus left all the splendor of Heaven to come to broken Earth to die a cruel death OUR Death for us. We need to see ourselves as lost sheep who desperately need shepherd. This world has become Soddom & Gomorrah all over again. Everyone doing as they please. Most think of Easter as a time for candy, baskets, the bunny. They forget about Maunday Thursday, Good Friday & the rest of Holy week. Once this country wakes up to our sinful nature then we will realize just how much the resurrection means to us. Like Bev said above there is no big or little sin. It’s all sin & we have ALL fallen short. Praising God for sacrificing His only Son for me!
Ann O'Malley says
A post on my favorite website, The Babylon Bee (featuring Christian satire), describes how, after reading some self-help psychology, God realizes that, for His own good, He should set more boundaries and cut ties with toxic influences, which of course means destroying the entire world.
The first time I read it, a little voice in my mind argued with the statement that human beings continually choose to rebel against Him. Surely that doesn’t include us Christians. Surely we’re not so bad that we could be considered toxic. Would He really have to destroy the whole world, or only those who refuse to believe in Him?
Then came an event that I described in my blog post at https://thosewhoweep.blogspot.com/2018/11/wounded-by-god.html. Reading the article again, I realized that I am one of those toxic people. Ouch.
It hurt to face my sin and failure. But the confession and cleansing brought a greater appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice and the depth of God’s grace than I would have had without it.
Thank you for reminding us of our need to sincerely confess before rejoicing over God’s grace. This is a message that we don’t hear often enough.