I’m having an unavoidable moment of clarity into who I am. Have you had one of those ever? Lately? “Unavoidable moments of clarity” for me are when I see me and the Father sticks around long enough to say: “Do you see this, son? This is you. No, really, it is.” And He smiles.
Clarity is good, I’ve learned, and when Abba sticks around to make a point, then I’m going to stick with it a bit longer and risk a deeper look. I do that not because I’m so spiritual; it’s because if I don’t deal with it now, I’ve learned I’ll have to circle back and deal with it later. He’s quite persistent in a gentle kind of way. Often my forward walk with Him is dependent on stopping when He stops. I’ve also learned that it’s quite safe to stop and focus on whatever the Father wants me to look at. I used to be afraid, and sometimes I still am, but when I’ve looked at my sin and talked to Him about it in the past, the ceiling didn’t crash down on me and my world got better, not worse. When the Father gives clarity into His kid’s sin, that clarity is always surrounded with a Cross-load of love and grace, so the “look-see” is not intended to kill, but to set free.
Question asking during such moments helps me deal with the real me. How do we feel about what we see in ourselves when our raw self is exposed? I try to ask some questions without being too defensive: “Am I always this way?” (Most likely, I’m not.) “Have I actually seen this sin in myself before?” (Likely.) “If so, what action did I take with it then?” My common responses:
“It’s not that bad.” (I downplay what I see.)
“It’s nothing.” (I dismiss it with a wave of the hand.)
“Well, I had to do that because…” (I justify it; at self-justification, I am a pro.)
“What sin?” (I just didn’t see my sin as sin. It’s amazing that even when the evidence of sin is right before me that I can miss it so completely. Some sins I’ve missed for years. Is that my fault? Or was it that the Father was gracious in not letting me see what might devastate His child?)
More questions I ask: “Do you feel so bad about yourself because of this sin that you’re thrown into an emotional crisis? Are you afraid to look at it closer? Do you want to allow this sin to hang around in your life? Would you like to get rid of it?” My responses to those questions are: “Yes, more often than I want to admit; quite often, yes; mostly, no; and, yes, but can you do it quickly and painlessly?”
But even though sin is a big issue in the Bible, I believe we Christians get far too upset when we see sin in ourselves in those moments of clarity. Why do my/our sins freak me/us out so much?
- They blow up our own inflated (and false) view of ourselves.
- They make us feel unworthy before God and others.
- They shock us.
Those are good experiences for us, in that “good” is often hard at first and wonderful later on (Rom. 8:28). Grace doesn’t mean we don’t look at our own sin, it’s that we look at it quite differently.
I’m being converted to the reality that when I have moments of the shocking clarity of my own sin, they are grace gifts that the Father is giving me. And I think this is true for you too. Why?
- Because sin separates us from God, from others and from ourselves…and God helps me see my sin because He is getting ready to separate me from my sin and bring me closer to Him and others, and give me a greater personal, internal wholeness and freedom.
- Because sin is darkness, and the Father is about ready to bring us, His children, into the light.
- Because sin is a heavy weight, and our Savior loves to unshackle us from heavy burdens.
- Because sin is chaotic, and the Spirit guides to straight paths and quiet waters (Ps. 23).
- Because sin brings death, and Abba is about ready to open up for us more life than we have known up to this point in life (Ps. 36:9).
- Because sin draws punishment, and the Lord is about ready to equip us to serve and live in ways that reap rewards, not punishment.
- Because the Spirit believes now, right now, is the time to take us to the next step of growth.
- Because by the awareness of sin, you know your Father believes that you, His beloved child, is ready to take the next step of growth and usefulness and impact. Seeing your own sin is in fact the precursor to a promotion and a seeing of the glory that God is going to bring into your life as He deals with that sin. The Gospel frees us not to never look at our own sins, but to look at our sin quite differently, doesn’t it? Because of the Cross, sin now is not my enemy it once was. It’s an indicator.
So, when you are shocked by your sin in your next moment of “unavoidable clarity”:
-Kiss it on the lips, even though it’s ugly. (Kisses are something like a baptism of sorts. You’re showering affection on something dirty, showing that it’s redeemable.)
-Pat it on the back like you would an Olympic champion.
-Hug it like you would an old friend.
-Invite it inside for a cup of coffee and sit with it for a while.
Why? Because good things are about to happen. You’re a child of God and evil can never win against you. God is about ready to do a miracle in you less obvious than raising the dead but just as profound. Grace is the gift that keeps on giving, moving into the darkness and bringing light; seeing your burdens and lifting them off. That’s why seeing your own sins now as a Christian is not death at all, but life—a grace gift—no less.
You take it to heart!