Thursday, March 3, 2016

Confession is a Lot Like Weeding

I’m not Catholic, but I was recently introduced to the Catholic sacrament of confession. The very kind priest who helped me through it explained that actually confessing is only part of  a larger process. It is preceded by an examination of conscience. That is an exercise whereby the confessing person compares his/her life to the scriptures to see where they have fallen short. It tells you what you need to repent from, confess, and work on going forward.

That process, both the examination and the actual confession, involved some unpleasantness. If nothing else, it diverted me from some other things that I could have fruitfully spent time on.  More fundamentally, it was not easy confronting my sin, in spite of my confessor’s very real grace.

But it was well worth the effort. It showed patterns in my sin that seem to have a common source, things I had not noticed before. I have repented of those, been absolved, and I am very grateful for that, but that was not the most significant part.

God used the whole process to lead me to actions that have grown my walk with, and I think, fruitfulness for Him.  Through it He showed me what had to go, a good deal about how those things came up in the first place, and helped me to start the work of dealing with them. That has not been easy, but God has given me definite helps in keeping keep at it, and it has already borne some fruit. I am sure more fruit will follow if I continue what He has laid before me.  

That  process strikes me as having distinct parallels to weeding. We first have to realize that we need to do some weeding. That roughly parallels the recognition that we need to take the time to start the process of confession. Then we have to identify what needs to go, what beds to focus on. That parallels the examination of conscience. Then we have to actually pull weeds, a never ending process. That parallels the corrective actions God shows us.  All of that takes real time and is real work, but it pays off, both immediately and more and more over time.

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