The first weekend of the Discipleship Program (DP) we went to a Spiritual Renewal conference in Guelph, and one of the things that was talked about there was confession, the ‘go to the priest and confess your sins’ kind of confession. For me, coming from an Evangelical background, that was a struggle. My first thought was ‘what in the world have I gotten myself into?’ and I thought about going home. But I had only just arrived, and I knew that God had called me to come here - how could I give up so easily? So I prayed about it, and the Lord gave me His peace, and I stayed. I saw in the lives of the staff the real Christianity that I had been searching for and wanted to live; they weren’t perfect, they never pretended to be, but when they fell down they got up again, they forgave each other, they grew… and I desperately wanted that. I still do.
We were encouraged to ‘make confession’, but in no way were we compelled or forced to. Everything that we were and are being taught we are encouraged to go back, to the Bible and the early church fathers, to try and test for ourselves and see the background of different practices of faith. And there, in the very pages of the Bible I thought I had known so well, I found things. Verses like James 5:16, Numbers 5:6-7, 1 John 1:8-9, and Proverbs 28:13 had a new meaning. I had always been taught (truthfully) to confess my sins to God, and that no one else needed to ever know about it. But I had also been taught (not exactly in words) that if I did something wrong (taking cookies without asking, for example) that I should confess. I had heard of confession, but always associated it with Catholicism and thought ‘that’s good for them, I guess, but I don’t need it’. The more I thought about it, the less strange it seemed. I had done a form of confession before, not to a priest or pastor but to a very close, godly friend when I was really struggling with a destructive sin pattern in my life, and the freedom that it gave me was bliss. So, like the soap on our door, I decided to try it.
Last summer I was in a situation that hurt a friend very deeply. I knew that I had done wrong, I had confessed to the Lord, asked forgiveness of my friend, and done everything I could to make things right. Though I knew that I had been forgiven in my head, I still carried the weight of guilt of what I had done, and felt condemned. So I went to one of the leader’s (the same one who told us to use the soap on our lock 😊) and confessed. The peace I felt when he spoke the words of Jesus to me, instead of just reading them myself, reminding me that I was forgiven and that there is ‘no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1a)’ removed all guilt from my soul. I don’t have to guess or hope that I ‘did enough’ to make up for what I did, and I know that if fear or guilt tries to creep back into my heart I can go back, receive prayer and encouragement and be strengthened to keep fighting.