Today’s blog is another segment to the “True Confessions” blog. If you haven’t read the first blog, don’t worry, as each is a stand-alone piece but, each blog adds another perspective to the topic of confession.
The room filled up and soon there was nowhere to sit, so this couple came and asked if they could sit with us on the couch. One great thing about being on vacation is that you get to meet new people. Our response was, “of course”. The performers began their act and we all enjoyed watching the acrobats. After the performance, we spoke to the couple sitting next to us and they were very pleasant. The conversation was filled with travel stories as they were frequent travelers who had gone to many places that we haven’t been to. The room emptied but, we continued to exchange stories, questions and travel tips. From that point, everywhere we went on the cruise ship we ran into this couple. The woman’s name was Sarah, and they were from south Florida. On the following day, I ran into Sarah several times, and later on in the evening we started having a conversation that really rattled me. My conversation with Sarah was after my first conversation with Anne who confessed to me that she had tried to commit suicide (read the last blog). At this point, I knew that God was up to something in these “chance encounters”, and I wanted to be careful not to overlook any opportunity that God provided. Sarah and I were talking about how much money goes through your fingers on a vacation, and she asked me if I knew how she could get cash on the ship. At first, I thought she was trying to borrow money from me! Then she clarified that she had been gambling in the casino, and had gone through the cash that she had brought onto the ship. I tried to direct her to someone who could help, when she started telling me her story.
Sarah confessed to me that, at home, many nights around four in the morning she gets up from her bed and sneaks out. Her husband goes to bed very late at night, and sleeps soundly until noon. When Sarah sneaks out of her house she drives to a nearby casino where she plays the slot machines until about eleven in the morning. She then comes home just in time so when her husband wakes up, he doesn’t realize that she’s been gambling for hours! As she confessed her actions to me, she looked down and wouldn’t look up. She said, “I’m messed up”, “I can’t stop”, “what am I going to do?”, and shaking her head she showed me how she felt utterly hopeless. Sarah felt that she couldn’t stop playing the slots, and her compulsion was so great that she couldn’t see a way out of her problem. Now before you say, “well that’s what you get for gambling!” I want you to think about what compulsion do you deal with? Is it food, shopping, gossiping, lying, lust, pornography, or is it something that appears Godly but isn’t?
As believers, we struggle with many things that we don’t want to confess to ourselves, to God, and to others. We deceive ourselves that God won’t notice. Just as God saw Sarah driving out of her development into the casino, He sees us with our struggles. Sarah confessed her problem to me that night, and I encouraged her to get help. I told her God would help her and that she wasn’t alone, and that many people struggle with compulsions that they hide away. The shame they feel for the activity that they are involved in is the second reason that we see for not confessing our sins, or our problems. Shame will keep you from getting help for a problem and keep you isolated from God if you have a sin issue. Brene’ Brown defines shame and guilt this way: “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad”. Guilt is “I did something bad”. The appropriate response when we are dealing with sin is guilt. Look at what King David says in Psalm 32:3-5, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality failed as with the dry heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not hide my guilt; I said, ‘I will confess my wrongdoings to the Lord; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah” David had guilt over his sin to the point that it overcame him. The guilt drove him to God instead of shame, which drives us away from God. David didn’t hide his guilt, he acknowledged his sin, confessed and then he was reconciled to God. If we turn towards our God (as I said in the last blog), He will provide a refuge for us, a sanctuary of peace. In Psalm 59:16 it says, “But as for me, I will sing of Your strength; Yes, I will joyfully sing of Your faithfulness in the morning, for You have been my refuge and a place of refuge on the day of my distress.”
Our next blog will continue our discussion on confession with our third woman, Jessica, and her story!