I need your help for a moment.
There’s an old saying that “confession is good for the soul”. I really believe that. Actually, I thought it was in the Bible, but it’s not. I just checked — not there. The Bible does say a lot about the importance of confession. It is indeed a key element of our faith. It is absolutely needed and necessary. But is it really good for the soul?
I think so and for that reason, I ask that you help me do a little soul tending right now.
I have something I need to confess to someone, and I picked you.
About a week ago, I was happily traveling along on the road of faith. I have driven along this road about fourteen years now and know the road fairly well. I have a fairly good driving record. I’ve even been able to help teach others to drive on this road. I believe one of the main rules of the road is to “trust and obey” and I’ve done pretty well with that.
So, what’s the problem?
Well, the problem is that when I came to a dangerous intersection, this time I didn’t maneuver it well. I flatly ignored the “trust and obey” rule. It was only momentary. No one knew it but me — and God. But it was a failure, nevertheless.
So, what was the intersection?
It was the intersection of faith and fear.
Over the last few years, I have gotten better at hearing and feeling specific instructions from God. If you are not a person of faith, I know that sounds weird. In fact, even if you are a person of faith, it may sound weird. But I promise you it is possible. And I promise you it is worth pursuing.
On this particular day, I was traveling and went into a restaurant for lunch. That alone takes faith these days! At the next occupied booth over from us, there was an elderly black gentleman with a World War II veterans cap on. Being white, I couldn’t help but think about all of the things that he has endured over his long life that I can’t begin to understand. I thought about his service and sacrifice in that war of wars. He was the vision of a hero to me.
Instantly, I felt the overpowering need to honor that gentleman by paying for his lunch. This was more than just a “do something nice” moment. This was a specific God-whispered instruction to honor this man right then and there.
This was my chance in a small way to show respect amidst the racial tensions of the last few weeks.
This was my chance to show honor for a deserving veteran.
This was my chance to be obedient to the direct promptings of God’s Spirit in that moment.
And I failed.
Why would I do that? How could I miss that opportunity that God had given me?
This is hard for me to admit but here goes.
You see, we were traveling though an area of the country that had just that week been identified as an extremely dangerous COVID hotspot. Media reporting was that it was going to be worse there than it had been anywhere in the country.
With that backdrop, we were naturally employing social distancing. We were avoiding any contact possible. I don’t count that as fear. I count that as wisdom. Our faith does not dictate that we suspend common sense and good judgement. Being cautious and careful does not conflict with having faith. Under those circumstances, avoiding any contact possible was a prudent thing to do.
EXCEPT for the fact that God had instructed me to honor this gentleman. Period.
And I momentarily let my fear override my faith.
I momentarily lost sight of the fact that my job was to trust and obey.
Although I quickly regained my bearings, it was too late. The old gentleman had paid and left. I had missed my opportunity.
I had failed to navigate the intersection of faith and fear well. For that I am sorry.
Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, but it seems like a big deal to me. In that moment, I did not live out the faith I profess. I was disobedient to the specific instructions of my Lord.
I think most of us experience moments like that and then find ourselves at another intersection.
This one is the intersection of failure and forgiveness.
Jesus died on the cross to provide me the road of forgiveness, but the choice is mine. I have to choose to drive on that one. So, I confess my failure before God and I drive on down the forgiveness road.
I hope you too choose the road of forgiveness. It is always available to you. You just have to follow the signs pointing toward Jesus.
And watch out for those intersections!