When I attended a Catholic church, I had a misguided notion that if you sinned on Tuesday you could stroll into the confessional with a contrite heart, ask for forgiveness and receive absolution on Friday. I describe this as misguided because if I would happen to repeat the sin the following Monday, my assumption was that I would once again stroll into the confessional with a contrite heart (though slightly more embarrassed) and would receive absolution again. And again. Over and over.
This wasn’t the fault of the Catholic church ~ let me be clear. This was my interpretation of how it happened because it was just easier for me…I would sin, God would forgive, I would fail again but because He knew I was careless but full of good intentions, He would forgive….what a sad, empty cycle of events. In essence, I was taking advantage of His grace.
Through it all, I would wonder why I never felt close to Him. Funny as it now seems, I wonder how close you and I would be to someone who repeatedly took advantage of our gifts, our understanding or our love. I created great distance between He and I ~ not by the sin itself but by disguising my lack of self discipline behind a Hail Mary.
The long and short of it is this. Yes, He knows our heart. He knows our personal struggle with sin. But I don’t believe we’re ever going to see His plan for our life in its full abundance until we stop expecting an endless stream of grace. We need to really come to terms that grace is a gift and not our right. We need to stop hiding behind the thought that amnesty is just a confession away. He wants more from us….and we should want more from ourselves.
Is there something sinful going on in our lives that we just pray about and ask for forgiveness over and over? Is it something so serious that it could tear apart our family if discovered? Is it something like gossip that can’t seem to find its way from coming out of our mouths? Is it foul language? Is it dishonor towards our spouse?
Rather than expect forgiveness, shift the focus to ceasing the sin. Is that the easier route? No, it’s the hard road; the bumpy journey that makes us uncomfortable. Is it the right route? Absolutely. Without a doubt.