Hiding From God (Monday 17 April)
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘confession’? Perhaps it conjures up a police drama, with a sweating criminal chained to a table owning up to the full scope of their terrible deeds? Or maybe it brings to mind a wooden box with a black-clad priest peering through a metal grill at the miserable sinner on the other side? The spiritual practice of confession is perhaps a little overlooked, but it is a foundational part our life with God, and the gateway to forgiveness and new life.
Late in the afternoon a breeze began to blow, and the man and woman heard the Lord God walking in the garden. They were frightened and hid behind some trees.
The Lord called out to the man and asked, “Where are you?”
The man answered, “I was naked, and when I heard you walking through the garden, I was frightened and hid!”
“How did you know you were naked?” God asked. “Did you eat any fruit from that tree in the middle of the garden?”
“It was the woman you put here with me,” the man said. “She gave me some of the fruit, and I ate it.”
The Lord God then asked the woman, “What have you done?”
“The snake tricked me,” she answered. “And I ate some of that fruit.”
This is a good way to look at some things confession is not. Confession in a spiritual context doesn’t mean owning up when it is clear you have failed to conceal your wrongdoing (3:11). It doesn’t mean justifying yourself by pointing the blame at someone else (3: 12). And it doesn’t mean simply admitting what you did without any sense of guilt or shame over your actions (3:13). The fact Adam and Eve went scrambling for the bushes in fear when they heard God coming shows they know they are in trouble. It is horrible to be exposed in wrongdoing; we will all know what that feels like. The question is, how to come before a Holy God when the game’s up?
Is there anything you are trying to hide from God? Are you accepting responsibility for your failings or passing blame to other people or circumstances? Are you sorry for your wrongdoing? Talk with God about your answers to these questions.
‘For a good confession three things are necessary: an examination of conscience, sorrow and a determination to avoid sin.’
(St Alphonsus Liguori)
ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer)