How happy is man the Lord does not charge with sin, and in whose spirit is no deceit! When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You took away the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:2-5 HCSB
I was monstrously unhappy. Discontent. And if you had asked me “Susan, what’s wrong?” I would have given you a whole list of things. So many people were making me miserable, treating me unfairly. I truly believed that it was my situation that was pitiful, that all my unhappiness was to blame on my external circumstances.
How happy is the woman in whose spirit there is no deceit. I had deceived myself, so cunningly. I was blind to an entrenched mental sin on my part, a cherished thought pattern. And I didn’t see that it was God’s hand heavy upon me, not everyone else’s, that was making me so miserable.
But then the day came when God’s truth finally lit up my mind’s sin like a spotlight, and I recognized it for what it was. I was horrified. And finally, I confessed it and began a beautiful process of allowing God to heal me of that stronghold.
And then it came – happiness. Lightness. Fresh air. Joy. God forgave me. He removed his heavy hand from me. My circumstances morphed themselves into blessings instead of burdens. The people I had convinced myself were to blame became friends.
I read this verse to my kids the other morning during our morning devotional, and I asked them to describe what it is like when you finally confess a sin and find God’s forgiveness. It was my 12-year-old son who answered, and so if you’d rather not read a middle-school boy’s rather – um – unsavory answer, just skip on down to Jen’s part from here.
But he said, “Well, Mom, it’s like that feeling of relief you get after you take a big dump on the toilet.”
Yep. Not terribly poetic, but accurate.
Ah…the vivid and blunt imagery of a twelve-year-old.
I watched my daughter’s swim practice a while back, intrigued by the contraption her coaches strapped to the older swimmers. It wrapped around their waist like a belt, had nylon cords about eight feet long, and came together in a u-shape at the end with something that looked like kite material. Out of the water, it looked meaningless. When the swimmer dove in, however, the whole picture became clear. The thing acted like a parachute in the water, creating drag. Those kids had to work twice as hard to complete their laps because the equipment held them back.
That image came to mind as I read Susan’s entry. Among many possibilities relating to her launching point (I don’t have to say how hopelessly flawed I really am, do I?), I have one particular memory of a sin I clung to. Fiercely. Because I was entitled to it—or so I thought. But sin is still sin, even when it is cloaked by a sense of justification. And just like that water parachute, it creates drag.
Several years of swimming through life while towing that kind of luggage is exhausting—and defeating. Strength drains away. Bones feel brittle. And, praise God, His hand feels heavy upon the one who continues to keep silent.
But the glorious turn in that verse is this—““I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You took away the guilt of my sin.”
I watched those same athletes compete in a meet a couple weeks after that practice. They flew through the water. Their tethers had been removed and they were free.
Sin always holds us back. Clinging to it, hiding it, or even justifying it doesn’t remove its heavy burden. It is only by confession and forgiveness that we are released from its grip. And when His forgiveness releases us, we are truly free.