What Are You Hiding Under the Woodpile?
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth isn’t in us. If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sin and wash us clean from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9
What’s it like to hear confession from nuns? One Roman Catholic priest said it’s “like being stoned to death with popcorn.”
We can only assume the nuns are giving it their best, but just can’t come up with any juicy stuff. On the whole, however, I’m not impressed with people who claim they’re never at fault for much of anything.
Why do we fall into the habit of blaming other people for our troubles, or minimizing our own faults? We think we’re avoiding guilt. But we’re not; we’re avoiding grace.
Whenever we rationalize our behavior, we keep accumulating a load of guilt. When we’re honest with God and spill out the whole, sordid story of our failures, he completely and totally forgives us. It’s so outlandish that the “perfect” remain in their guilt, and the guilty have a clean conscience, but that’s irony for you.
If you really rummage around in the dark cellar of your soul, you might find some pretty icky stuff. The only question is: how long are you going to keep that moldy junk down there? When Jesus says he wants to cleanse us, he really means that. But he won’t bust down the basement door. You have to open it; he’ll do the rest.
Richard Hoefler, in his book Will Daylight Come?, tells the story about two young kids who visited their grandparents one summer. The boy, Johnny, was given his first slingshot. He practiced shooting it in the woods, but missed everything he aimed at.
One day, when he came back near the house, he saw his grandma’s pet duck. Impulsively, he aimed a stone at it and let it fly. He hit the duck and killed it.
Johnny panicked and hid the duck under the woodpile – only to notice his sister, Sally, watching him.
Sally said nothing to her grandparents about the duck. But, after lunch, grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” Sally said, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today . . . didn’t you Johnny?” Then she whispered to him, “Remember the duck.” So, Johnny did the dishes.
On another occasion grandpa asked if the kids wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally then claimed that Johnny wanted to help with supper, and again whispered, “Remember the duck.” So, Johnny stayed home while Sally went fishing.
This went on for several days. Johnny was doing both his chores and Sally’s. When he could stand it no longer, he went to grandma and told her that he had killed her duck.
“I know, Johnny,” she said, giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing.” Then she added, “I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave out of you.”