I binged. I restricted. I binged. I restricted. While this destructive pattern ruled my behavior for so long, there was a far more destructive pattern buried behind all the food and famine.
I binged. I restricted His grace. I binged. I restricted His grace. I binged. I restricted His grace. Caught up in a frenzied panic of weighing out and measuring the penalty for overeating, and paying for it the next day, was just a picture of what was going on in my own heart. The fact that I was consumed by thoughts of food pierced my soul, like a splinter driven under the fingernail. “I can’t stop this repeated behavior. Am I truly a Christian?”. From this heavy question, this great burden on my back, I sought to free myself; from a cycle that, as John Bunyan put it, threatened to “sink me lower than the grave”. But it wasn’t the actual consuming thoughts of food that threatened to “sink me lower than the grave”, it was the inward gazing at myself, my fears, my failures, me, me, me.
Christ calls us to look at him. But how can we change our addictive obsession of looking at ourselves to a steady gaze at Christ? Our answer lies in confession. Our gaze inward is transformed upward to Christ in blessed confession. What if, instead of waking to a new day by shackling on ourselves the chains of restriction (for the penalty of what was done yesterday, or the fear of what we will do today), we woke craving confession.
A highlight of our church’s service is when we get to confess as a congregation. Here is an example taken from our morning service:
Prayer of Confession & Assurance of Pardon
All: Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from Your ways, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. Have mercy upon us and grant, for Christ’s sake, that we may live a godly life, to the glory of Your Holy Name. Amen.
Elder: If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Amen. (1 John 1:9)
What if we entered into the morning receiving His grace. What if we habituated ourselves to accept His grace even when our actions and burdens would condemn us otherwise. A robust theology of the cross of Jesus is paramount. Without it, we are left wondering whether there is some penalty left we must pay, something left undone that should have been done, something done that should not have been done. Our egos get in the way and we want to help ourselves out of the mess we have created. We want to make ourselves feel better by trying harder and paying what we owe. But when confronted with the cross, when confronted with confession, when confronted with Jesus, our own striving is put to death, and what and who we love and worship is reoriented towards Him.
I want to wake, not rehashing all my failures of yesterday, but rather, rehearsing to my soul the story of His grace and mercy towards me. I want to wake in the liberating light of confession. God’s mercies are new every morning. And this mercy and forgiveness rekindles and reorients hearts towards Himself. Let us wake, not with the intent of trying to do better, but singing “great is THY faithfulness” Lord on behalf of me.