“Confession is good for the soul”
My name is Nikki and I am a recovering control freak.
In the Nikki Game of Life, I like to be in control and I like things to be completed exactly how I have envisioned them in my head. Isn’t that how everyone lives?!?! Okay, maybe not, but this how I lived for a long time. Then about four years ago I discovered that this control thing I had going on…yeah, it’s called sin. Oops…just lost a few of you. Stay with me, I promise I will explain.
You see, from the time I was about 18 I struggled with intense fear and anxiety. I even went through a period of my life where it was so debilitating that it paralyzed me in many aspects of my life. But I’m not getting into that today, that’s a three-part blog all on its own. The point is, this had been an intense battle in my life for almost two decades before the root of the issue was revealed. My fear and anxiety was not the result of any kind of phobia disorder, they were manifestations of a lack of trust. Often over the last several years I would pray that God would reveal anything in my life that kept me separated from Him. I wanted to know if there was any sin in my life that I was not recognizing, sin that was hindering my relationship with Him, sin that was holding me back from all that He had planned for my life. One day God answered that prayer.
God: “Yes Nikki, there is a sin issue we need to deal with. You don’t trust me.”
Me: “No God…I do trust you.”
God: “If you truly trusted me you would not live in the prison of fear and anxiety. You would know that the “what ifs” of life will only hold you back from all that I have prepared for you.
Me: “No God…I do trust you. I only have fear and anxiety about the big things in life; protection, safety, and security.”
God: “Oh so you trust me, just not with the big stuff. If you don’t trust me with the big stuff you don’t really trust me at all.”
Me: “But what if something doesn’t go well or what if something bad happens?”
God: “Ahhhhh…I understand. You don’t trust me to get it right.”
With that truth I felt like a knife had pierced my heart and then sliced me into a thousand pieces. My need to always been in control was really a lack of trust in God. I didn’t trust God to get it right. I didn’t trust Him to do things the way I thought they should be done. Before I go any further, because I know some of you are wondering, no, this was not an audible conversation between God and myself. This was the process of revelation, an innate understanding of the truth God wanted me to know. In my quiet time of prayer He gave me the answers I had been seeking and I was faced with the grim reality that I did not fully trust the God I love. As difficult as that was to discover, I like to think of that moment as my own personal Independence Day. The truth had set me free, the chains of sin were falling off; I was on the road to freedom. One by one my fears and anxieties began to dwindle as I fully surrender my life to God. He was in control and I finally learned what living in the fullness of my salvation meant.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” ~ Ephesians 6: 10,11, 14-17
The history nerd in me cannot help but equate freedom with our own country’s fight for independence. The colonists did not risk their lives to free themselves from England only to have momentary lapses of judgement where they would allow the British to rule over them again. When Patrick Henry cried “Give me liberty or give me death” he meant it. He was saying that death was preferrable to living under the tyranny of the British monarchy. When the Declaration of Independence was signed and the war was won there was no turning back. Their freedom came at a high cost so they treasured and protected it. When Jesus died on the cross He did so to set us free from the oppression of sin. God wanted to be reconciled with humanity and His Son’s death and resurrection were the means by which he accomplished it. God did not saves us so that we would continue to live in the bondage of sin. He saved us so we could be free…free to live the life He created us for. So why do we turn back? Why do we let the very things that God set us free from creep back in like a long-lost friend? Our freedom from sin came at the highest cost should we not treasure and protect it?
I have a big week ahead of me which has involved intense preparations over the last several weeks. As last week came to an end God gave me the clarity and calm to know that I was fully prepared. There is such a peace in knowing all outcomes are in His hands, I need only be obedient. However, this morning I woke up a first class passenger on the hot mess express. How’s that for waxing poetically? Seriously, somewhere between church yesterday morning and the moment when the 2 x 4 hit me over the head several hours ago, the Nikki Show commenced. Like a bolt of lightning out of nowhere yesterday evening, control freak Nikki reared her ugly head. The work God had given me a peace about now seemed lacking or missing something. Frantically I sat at my keyboard typing just a little more to make it complete. Writing and rewriting my words to feed that beast of perfectionism. Reluctantly forcing myself to bed at midnight only to wake up and 7:00 am to immediately resume my writing. I didn’t even pray, I didn’t even invite God into the work I was doing for Him. In those moments I had lost my mind, I had gone back in time; it wasn’t about God it was all about me being in control. When Matt tried to check me last night I politely told him I was all good and I would stop soon. But I was so lost in control land that all I really wanted to say was “shut up and leave me alone, I have work that I need to finish.” The final straw was at 7:30 this morning, I needed clothes to get to the dry cleaners stat because they have to be done tomorrow. In my typing frenzy I couldn’t bear the thought of walking away from my computer. “Matt what are you doing?” I am such a genius, my husband is home, he can go for me. Yeah, not so much. Matt’s reply was that he needed to get a run in before starting his work day. Get a run in…WHAT?!?!?! I don’t have time for this. I am leaving for my conference in two days you’re not running your marathon till October. Let’s get our priorities straight. Of course this whole dialogue occurred in my head. My actual reply to Matt was a simple “fine.” Men, if you don’t already know this, when your wife says the word “fine” the situation is really far from fine. As my husband left for is run I begrudgingly gave him a kiss…didn’t he know he just bumped my control-freak happy. I was preparing to shut my computer down and head to the dry cleaners when a moment of clarity hit me. The words “what are you doing” flashed through my mind. I stop dead in my tracks. What was I doing? I was frantic and frustrated, my thoughts were chaotic and all over the place. In an instant I knew I had let the enemy enter the scene. Immediately I stopped and prayed.
There is a reason why Paul tells us to put on the armor of God. We have an enemy that wants to sidetrack us, derail us, and ultimately destroy us. He drags us into a battle that is far greater than our circumstances in order to hurt God by hurting us. Satan knows how this battle ends…he loses and God wins. Not a fan of this ending, Satan’s lashes out his anger at God on all of humanity. But the enemy has no power or authority over us. In his desperate attempt to trip us up he whispers lies and uses deception as a manipulator. However, when we belong to Jesus Christ we have all authority and power to shut the enemy down. In Jesus name we have been given the right to cast the enemy out of any situation. When we put our armor on daily…when we walk in truth, live in God’s ways, trust in faith, and live in and spread the peace of the Gospel …then we are prepared for the battles that lay ahead.
The moment the scales fell off my eyes this morning the deception was over. The enemy had attacked and I walked right into it. As I recollect my whole weekend I realize the attack had been brewing. So many thoughts were swimming in my head that I couldn’t focus. God had already told me I was done but I felt like I needed to do more. In my quest to do more, I opened the door for the enemy to visit and he brought my old pal control with him. In my brain, in my thoughts, that is where they camped yesterday and clearly we had a slumber party because they were still here when I woke up this morning. Pushing me to do more because what I had completed was not “good enough” yet. There it was, the lie I believed. My work is not good enough; even though God had already told me it was, I didn’t believe Him, I didn’t trust Him. Ouch…talk about the worst case of the Monday’s…EVER!!!!
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind me and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3: 12-14
Paul’s words remind me this morning of a very valuable lesson that we would all do well to remember…we have not arrived. In this journey through life we are a work in progress. We will never get it right all the time; God doesn’t expect us to. As long as we are human we will stumble and sometimes we even fall. The beauty of our God is that, in His infinite grace, He picks us up and He dusts us off. He doesn’t hold our mistakes against us and he doesn’t want us to dwell in them either. When we fall short, all God desires is confession and repentance. We must recognize our mistakes for two reasons; 1) so that we may demonstrate an understanding that certain behaviors and attitudes are unpleasing to God and 2) so that we do not repeat them. Confession is good for the soul because it is our key to freedom. When we confess our sins to Almighty God they are gone, it is as if they never existed. That my friends is forgiveness. God forgives those who confess with a repentant heart and He grants us the freedom to continue forward. Never once does He make us turn around and look back at our mistakes. As far as He is concerned they are gone. The instant that I confessed my disobedience to God this morning it disappeared from His memory. The moment I hit “publish” on this blog I will move forward from it too, moving onward toward my goal which is heavenward.