The ERV Bible puts it this way: “So always tell each other the wrong things you have done. Then pray for each other. Do this so that God can heal you.”
I learned this sitting at a small children’s table covered in light dust. The hot Haitian sun was beating down and we were all exhausted. I sat with my head in my hands not knowing the right words to say. My sponsor son staring faraway with a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas. Our interpreter smiled, giggled a little and shrugged his shoulders.
There had been “issues.” Disobedience. Lies. Disrespect. While they didn’t think my sponsor son was the ringleader, he certainly was not innocent and definitely played a part. A very wrong part.
We had sat down to talk. I was grateful for the opportunity. Overwhelmed with appreciation that the American missionary, Amber, was so invested in the lives and hearts of these children that she wanted and insisted that we try talking to figure out what exactly was going on. In a culture where survival is the number one – and many times the only emotion, talking about how our words and actions can hurt another person was not an easy task. But we were committed to trying.
It took awhile, but eventually my sponsor son came to see that what he had said and done was flat out wrong. It didn’t matter the why. It didn’t matter that not all the little details were correct. It only mattered that his wrong had hurt someone else. And it was up to him to apologize and make it right.
I was used to this simple formula for apologizing: go to the person you wronged and say you’re sorry. Then it’s done, over with, and you can move on.
So I was a little taken aback when Amber turned to my son and said that he must find a staff member he trusted to confess to. And then he must ask that staff member to pray for him.
What?! Get other people involved? Tell someone else his mistake? Wouldn’t that just embarrass him? Wouldn’t that humiliate him?
But God tells us to confess our sins. Tell people about the wrongs we have done. Don’t hide those shortcomings trying to pretend you’re almighty and perfect. We’re ALL sinners! And when we hide what we have done we bury it with shame and embarrassment and it festers and grows inside of us until we’re convinced that all we’re made up of is rotten stuff.
But if we take our sins out – hold them out for God and others to see – great things can happen. We realize we are not alone. We realize our imperfect can be made beautiful through Christ. No longer are we hiding our shame, but we are taking proactive steps to improving.
Later that evening I found my sponsor son and asked if he had done what he was asked to. A big smile crossed his face. In his broken English he explained, “yes! I ask Wilfred. I tell him I do bad things but I don’t want to do bad things anymore. I tell him I need him to pray for me so I can do good things and he say he will pray for me. He pray that I will listen to God!”
He had found strength and hope and joy in his confession. He had found that he no longer had to hide or duck his head down in shame when walking past people he thought knew of his bad decisions. Instead, he could walk proudly knowing that others were aware of his struggles and instead of condemning him, offered up prayers of support and love.
See, God doesn’t want us going around pointing fingers at other people gossiping in hushed voices the bad things we’ve heard they’ve done. He wants us to band together, gather strength from one another, hold each other up and be accountable so that He can HEAL us!
What is troubling you today? What thing are you hiding? What do you know deep down inside yourself that you are struggling with but you don’t know how to initiate a change?
Find someone you trust. Confess to them your struggle. And confess your desire to heal. Then ask them to pray for you. God will do amazing things in your heart!