We come once again to the season of Lent – a time of repentance and confession that prepares us for the salvation of Easter. The problem? Most of us don’t do confession very well. In the Catholic Church, the confession of sins is built into their tradition and ritual. They know the need to confess, so they do (or at least some do). Protestants don’t have a standard process for confession. A long time ago our religious ancestors said, “We don’t need to confess our sins to any priest. We can go directly to God for our forgiveness.” Which is certainly true. But the upshot is many people simply stopped confessing their sins to anyone…especially God.
It’s kind of like a Peanuts comic strip I read in which Lucy is leaning against Schroeder’s piano. She says to him, “I have examined my life and found it to be without a flaw. Therefore, I am going to hold a ceremony and present myself with a medal. I will then give a very moving acceptance speech… After that, I’ll greet myself in the receiving line. When you are perfect, you have to do everything yourself.”
Lucy may have found her life to be “without flaw” – but she is a cartoon character. Real people have flaws. Even the very best among us need to practice the discipline of confession and repentance.
In C.S. Lewis’s classic book, “The Great Divorce,” he describes a bus ride from hell to heaven, in which the inhabitants of hell are greeted by angels and offered the opportunity to live in heaven. All they have to do to stay is let go of the one thing that has kept them from true happiness and forgiveness. In the end, only one of them has the courage to stay. As one angel says, “There is always something that they prefer to joy – that is, to reality. They are like spoiled children that would sooner miss their play and their supper than say they are sorry.”
I know it can be easy to cling to old ways of thinking and behaving – even when we know deep down they are essentially destructive. Sometimes we are like spoiled children. But God is waiting and fully prepared to offer us joy and light. Are you prepared to receive it?