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Lists

Lists

June 27, 2019

“We are what we think about all day long.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

While not necessarily a neat freak, I am an order freak. I like for things to be in their proper place. I need order to function, to be productive and to think clearly. So, I love lists. They help me to remember, to stay organized and to be productive. 

No doubt my love of lists prompted my response to a message I heard years ago. A dynamic young college student defined a pivotal point in her walk with the Lord.

She decided to keep a written record of her sins for one full week. She then met with a trusted friend and confessed every sin on her list. Apparently, she struggled to be open about one particular sin, but eventually confessed it as well. As she described the incredible relief and healing following her confession, she referenced the following Scripture:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NIV)

In hindsight, I imagine she designed her lesson to highlight the importance of confessing every single sin, even those we want to hide. Especially those we want to hide. 

But my young Christian mind immediately fixated on the idea of a list. How perfect! If I wrote everything down, I would never be in danger of forgetting to confess something. So I tried it for a week. 

Each day I wrote down every sinful thought, word and deed. The week seemed to drag on and on. I couldn’t shake a sense of doom and gloom. I longed to feel free, forgiven and whole. So I met with my close friend, eager to read everything on my list. 

Suddenly, my friend interrupted me, “Shirley, what is this?” Surprised she didn’t already know, I looked up, “My sin list. I want to confess everything.” And I returned to my reading.

Appalled, I watched her hands reach out, grab my list, and rip it up. Confused, I looked up and met her eyes.

“I don’t know what this is or where this idea came from,” she pointed to the scraps of paper, “but I do know this is not good for you. I hardly recognized you today. Where is your joy? Keeping this list has made you miserable. So if you really want to bring me a list, make it a list of answered prayers, or the ways God is working in your life.” 

My friend taught me a valuable lesson that day. While confessing our sin is healthy, dwelling on our sin is not. Our focus determines our outlook.

To be honest, I cannot think of one Scripture asking us to keep a record of our sins. But several remind us to focus on the good gifts we have in Christ. Let me share a short list of some of my favorite blessings:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 NIV)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phillippians 4:19 NIV)

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)

Simply put: Confess your sins, but count your blessings.

If you see me on the road, I hope you find me focused on remembering His gifts. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray you too may count the blessings sent from the One who leads us.

Lists

June 27, 2019

Lists

“We are what we think about all day long.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

While not necessarily a neat freak, I am an order freak. I like for things to be in their proper place. I need order to function, to be productive and to think clearly. So, I love lists. They help me to remember, to stay organized and to be productive. 

No doubt my love of lists prompted my response to a message I heard years ago. A dynamic young college student defined a pivotal point in her walk with the Lord.

She decided to keep a written record of her sins for one full week. She then met with a trusted friend and confessed every sin on her list. Apparently, she struggled to be open about one particular sin, but eventually confessed it as well. As she described the incredible relief and healing following her confession, she referenced the following Scripture:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NIV)

In hindsight, I imagine she designed her lesson to highlight the importance of confessing every single sin, even those we want to hide. Especially those we want to hide. 

But my young Christian mind immediately fixated on the idea of a list. How perfect! If I wrote everything down, I would never be in danger of forgetting to confess something. So I tried it for a week. 

Each day I wrote down every sinful thought, word and deed. The week seemed to drag on and on. I couldn’t shake a sense of doom and gloom. I longed to feel free, forgiven and whole. So I met with my close friend, eager to read everything on my list. 

Suddenly, my friend interrupted me, “Shirley, what is this?” Surprised she didn’t already know, I looked up, “My sin list. I want to confess everything.” And I returned to my reading.

Appalled, I watched her hands reach out, grab my list, and rip it up. Confused, I looked up and met her eyes.

“I don’t know what this is or where this idea came from,” she pointed to the scraps of paper, “but I do know this is not good for you. I hardly recognized you today. Where is your joy? Keeping this list has made you miserable. So if you really want to bring me a list, make it a list of answered prayers, or the ways God is working in your life.” 

My friend taught me a valuable lesson that day. While confessing our sin is healthy, dwelling on our sin is not. Our focus determines our outlook.

To be honest, I cannot think of one Scripture asking us to keep a record of our sins. But several remind us to focus on the good gifts we have in Christ. Let me share a short list of some of my favorite blessings:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 NIV)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phillippians 4:19 NIV)

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)

Simply put: Confess your sins, but count your blessings.

If you see me on the road, I hope you find me focused on remembering His gifts. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray you too may count the blessings sent from the One who leads us.

2 Comments

  1. Charla on June 29, 2019 at 12:17 PM

    Praise God for a true friend through Christ, Shirley! I fully agree with your statement, “While confessing our sin is health, dwelling on sin is not.” God recently nudged me to stop fishing in His sea of forgetfulness 🙂 And, I confess…I am list maker, too!

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on July 1, 2019 at 3:05 PM

      Thanks Charla, I love how God helped you to stop fishing in “His sea of forgetfulness”! What a great image-of both His ability to forget, and my struggle to let go.

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