Do you sin boldly?
Sermons often have a way of rocking me, but some have a way of breaking me wide open.
They are all just words, words formed by letters, to make a sentence that someone speaks aloud. But it is in that arrangement of those specific letters that one can truly see the power of words, the power in a sermon. They are words laid together just so, so that we can see God at work through the one who is teaching them.
Sin is a short word, comprised of three letters. But it holds so much if we let it... All week long I have heard those words "sin boldly", replayed the question in my mind as I attempt to fall asleep.
This entire week and all week before that really, I have walked around in a fog. I stopped blogging. I did exactly what I had recently vowed I was not going to do anymore. I wrapped myself in cloak of haze and let myself hide in it. Why? Because I don't want to think. I don't want to remember. I don't want to move forward, because it is painful. I stopped thoughts, because I didn't want to feel the pull that it would bring from my heart. It has been almost a year since my brother died and with it comes the urge to block it all out again.
But God gets through fog and haze has nothing on Jesus. And so, He met me where I was. He met me where I was so that I could see the question marks that I had been letting eat me from the inside.
Do I sin boldly?
That answer would have been no and I would have thought it should be. Sin boldly? Why would I want to sin boldly? And so I leaned in closer and I listened. "You sin boldly, because Jesus is bolder than sin." These words made sense, but not in real terms. And then there was a reference, a reference to a story that always brings me to my knees... the younger brother, the prodigal son. The inaudible intake of breathe, the invisible fingers tightening around my insides was all it took and the tears were pouring out, tears I had been forcing back all week long. This story has so much significance for me and usually without fail any mention of this story will leave me in tears, it has for years. But these tears were different. These tears held so much of what I have been working so hard to repress, because when this story was mentioned- in this particular sermon, in this particular context- I was confronted with all of the questions I have been refusing to acknowledge. The question prosed went something like this, "What if part of the reason the younger brother left in the first place was because his older brother wasn't contrite enough to share his own sins? What if the younger brother felt he could never live up to the expectations set by his older sibling and so he just didn't even care to try?"
And so in the middle of a sermon, on a Sunday, in the far corner of a sanctuary I broke open. All week long words have been bottling up and now, because another sleepless night can wait, they will bleed out. Cut open, bleeding black and white.
Was I contrite enough?
Did I do enough to help a dark situation?
Did my brother know that my heart could be just as sinful as his?
Did I share my story with him?
Did I share my sin?
I brought him to church, I encouraged him to come to reGroup. I did this checklist of things I thought might help him, but how did I do it? Did I say "come, you need this" or did I tell him how much I need it all too?I would like to think I did. I would like to think a part of me had gotten better, that I had learned to be more forgiving. I would like to think he remembered my apologizes more than he remembered the words I spewed at him in anger. But then I replay the number of my memories that include bitter undertones. I can't go back, I can't replay the picture. I can only hope that the things I shared with him before he died were enough for him to know just how badly I wanted him in those seats. I am grateful for the year we had before he died, I am grateful for the redemption our relationship had started to see, but I also know that I could have done more. Our stories are our own, but they are also there for the sake of others. Looking back, I wish I had shared more. Not on pen and paper, in my own private way, but out loud with him. I wish I hadn't waited until I had fully understood my own sin to share it with him, because it wasn't enough time.
I know that these things - these questions and the way I throw them at myself- are a processing step; a self-inflicted guilt pang that will probably heal with scar-tissue that can still be felt from underneath the skin. They are real; they are the questions that I have been pushing to the far corners of my mind because I didn't want to address them. Yet, they are what I need. I need them to be the reminder that my sin should be shared; shared boldly, so that I don't have to question if I could have shared more. Shared boldly so that maybe another "younger brother" doesn't feel the need to run so far away, so that maybe they will want to settle into a seat, that fills a room, that is filled with people who can help tell them of God's grace.
Sin is a short word, comprised of three letters. But it holds so much if we let it.
God is a short word too, but God will trump sin every time.
He doesn't need to hold any of it for us, He has already let it go.
Link to hear sermon (preached by Zach Van Dyke)