Monday, August 06, 2012

CP 188 Confessions from the grave...


CP 188 Confessions from the grave…

The Sydney Morning Herald carried a story on July 20 this year about a US man called Val Patterson. Dying of cancer at 59, he wrote his own obituary, which was read at his funeral. It was then printed in The Salt Lake Tribune. In his obituary he acknowledged stealing a safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in 1971. “I wanted to get that off my chest,” he wrote. He also admitted that he had been “banned for life” from Disneyland and Sea World. The most astonishing part of his confession was, “I really am NOT a PhD”. He went to pay off his College student loan from an undergraduate degree he hadn’t completed. The office girl put his receipt in the wrong stack and 2 weeks later a PhD Diploma arrived in the mail. “I didn’t even graduate. In fact, I never did learn what the letters ‘PhD’ even stood for. For all the electronic engineers I’ve worked with, I’m sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked well.”

Having read that I was reminded that many moons ago I used to visit a dying friend from Wagga, a disciple of Jesus Christ, about once-a-week. He was chronically ill and his life was ever so slowly ebbing away. Unfortunately, he died while Rose and I were on holidays. When we returned I was given an envelope addressed to “Fred the Rev”. In it was a letter from him to me. Among other things it included a confession about something that he had done many years before for which he could have been liable to criminal charges. I was the first person he had ever told, and that only when he knew I would not see him alive again in this life.

I’m sure all of us live with our secret and hidden sins. I have sometimes said to myself that I am glad some people predeceased me because they knew things about me which I wouldn’t want the world to know. I won’t be including them in a pre-written obituary either. However that line in the Val Patterson story also rings true both for me and for my dying friend. “I wanted to get that off my chest”.

Shame and guilt are great cripplers. The internal ‘tightening’ of one’s life, that tautness and dread which rises in us through the ever-present fear of exposure means we are forever shutting down when someone gets too close (to the truth!). Anybody trapped in shame lives a ‘shuttered’ life. The curtains of the soul are permanently down. I have often wondered whether my dying friend was fearful that I would speak judgement and condemnation upon him if he came clean. I would grieve if he, or anyone of you, would think that. It would have been the joy of my life to declare forgiveness to him.

Confession is good for the soul. Always. However it’s even 1000% better when we come clean with someone who can speak the forgiveness of Calvary to us. God the Father wants us to come clean but not so that he can condemn us. He wants us whole and healthy in spirit. That comes through forgiveness. Jesus Christ went to his Cross to become a fountain of mercy for us. Please don’t carry your sin and failure like a sack of potatoes in your soul. At the very least tell the Lord. Ask forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. The Father always forgives the person who repents. Always. Yes, always. Always. Did you note that? He always forgives the person who repents. Always.

I promise you it helps if you have a confessor whose heart is gripped with grace and mercy from the Christ. But even if you can’t find that person, come clean with your Father because he longs to have you home.

Be blessed in Him.

Fred

PS. Here’s a quote I came across recently: “The world is weary of cures that don’t cure, blessings that don’t bless, and solutions that don’t solve.” C G Chesterton.

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