A couple of months ago, I asked my 18-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter if I could talk to them. As they sat, both searched my face for a clue as to what was coming.
With a deep breath to quell the butterflies, I began, “I have become increasingly aware I don’t see myself clearly. There are some friends at church I have asked to speak into my life about sin patterns they see in me, but the truth is, I am probably not totally myself around them. You guys live with me and spend the most time with me, and more than that, you love me and would never intentionally hurt me. I trust you. I’m asking you to do a hard thing, and I promise I won’t be mad, no matter what you say. I need you to tell me what I’m really like. How do I treat you? How have I sinned against you recently?”
Silence. I was not the only one for whom this was going to be difficult.
Finally, my son spoke up and reminded me of an incident a few days past. He had come into my office to tell me something, not realizing I was on the phone. I became very irritated at the disruption and rudely waved him off. He added two more similar stories.
The Spirit brought James 4:1-6 to mind as he was talking, and I felt actual pain. My impatience with the slightest interruptions at times reveals my desire to be lord of my life. I demand to be served and punish those who interfere, even if they had no intention of doing so.
I looked into the face of the person who is arguably the biggest encourager I have, and asked, “How did I make you feel?” No answer. “I hurt you, didn’t I?” He nodded.
“Josiah, I am so, so sorry. Those things I did to you were very selfish and unkind. Will you please tell me when I act that way again, because I certainly will? Will you please forgive me?” While I was still speaking, he threw his arms around me.
“Of course I will. I love you.”
I’m trying to make this kind of conversation a pattern, although this is one of the more difficult things I have ever done. In my head, I know I will need to repent and trust Christ every day in this life, and I will not be perfected until I am glorified; until then, I must persevere in sanctification (1 John 3:1-3). Still, I live sometimes as if I am surprised I sin and still need the cross and the LORD’s grace. Do I want to be like Jesus, or do I want to hold onto my fig leaves? Every day, I must ask and answer this question.
Today, I run to the cross and the power of Christ not only to justify me, but to conform me to His image. And I rejoice.
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:9-14).