We have a waterfall in our backyard. It is one of those man-made water features that includes a small pond, a pump, and the sound of water tumbling softly over a bed of rocks. Sitting in my office, I can hear its rhythm, and my heart and mind settle. It soothes me, delivering a covering of peace while I work, study, and read.
However, I wasn’t able to enjoy this sound much of the summer. The reason? It sprang a leak. In the span of less than 24 hours, the pond’s water level dropped several inches. Since it sits close to the foundation of our home, we couldn’t allow it to continue to leak. So we drained it, dried it, removed all the rocks, and then went on a hunt to find the source of the problem.
It took much longer than we expected. Eventually, we found a hole. Then we patched it, sealed it, and filled the pond back up, thinking the issue was solved.
It wasn’t. Again, the water level dropped dramatically. Once again, we drained, dried, removed, and searched. This time, we discovered a large area where the water liner, due to time and weather, had completely disintegrated. Not a pinhole, but an entire area. We’d missed it the first time around because it sat deep underneath one of the larger rocks. It took time and determination to find the true source of the leak, to bypass the superficial holes that were easier to spot and seal, and instead search for the more serious culprit. Once we found it, we got to work. This time, the repair took longer and required more supplies. And, before we put everything back again, we tested it. It was too important not to be sure.
Now, a couple of weeks later, I sit here with the sound of the water outside my window once again. And although I wish it hadn’t been so much work, I also know the reward was fully worth the effort.
At this stage of my life, I’ve come to realize that my confidence — my internal sense of groundedness and peace — can be like a lovely pond. When it is shored up, leak-proof, it produces an internal haven I can retreat to when life grows hard. But like anything else in this human experience, my confidence is subject to wear and tear. Over time and through various kinds of weather, the liner can wear down, develop holes, even disintegrate. That is why I can’t neglect the internal state of my heart. I must always keep my eye out for evidence of a leak, something that is draining the peace and confidence I have in Christ.
And nothing pokes a hole in our confidence quite like the stab of condemnation.
Condemnation can come in many forms: an unjust accusation, criticism from someone who is supposed to love us, regret over a mistake, memory of a past failure, an inaccurate perception of how God feels about us, or simply physical weariness and exhaustion. Our enemy is adept at using condemnation to poke holes in our confidence because it stands in direct opposition to the gospel. As Paul wrote, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, NIV).
The Good News of Jesus is that through His life and death and resurrection, the condemnation we deserved was put to death along with Jesus. That horrible thing you did last week? Paid for. That mistake from your youth that you can’t seem to get over? Thrown as far as the east is from the west. That put-down you received from the mouth of someone who is supposed to love you? Jesus is standing guard over you. It can’t stick. The way you feel like you can’t do it right, get it right, live it right? No worries. Jesus became all our brokenness so all that is wrong with us could finally be made whole.
No condemnation. None. Zero.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV)
It is God Himself who makes us strong, firm, steadfast. So go ahead and seal up all those holes — especially those that run deep and dark — with the healing power of those words. God does not condemn you. He loves you. And His love is the only seal strong enough to shore up your peace beyond the reach of all that is wrong with the world and deliver a haven of rest and confidence no matter where you are.