I can still see the white pillowcase stuffed with rocks and ragged squares of torn sheets. She would carry it over her shoulder in Santa Clause fashion and plop it on the classroom table. “This is SO heavy!” my mom would exclaim. “What on earth is inside?!”
She would take out the first rock and unwrap the rag covering it. There’d be a picture of a dollar bill on the rag. “Oh no! I have loved shopping more than God. I’m sorry, God.” She would toss the sheet and the rock toward the small wooden cross.
She would reach in again, pulling out a picture of a stick figure with a thought bubble — She is so mean. Her clothes are awful. I am better than she is.
“I’m sorry, God, for thinking that I am better. I need to love everyone, even if they are not nice to me.”
And so it went until the empty pillow case joined the rocks and rags at the foot of the cross. Then you might see my country-club mother and her Sunday School kids do a happy dance.
At my current church, we sometimes recite a prayer of confession that goes like this –
Dear God, I see that I am more flawed and sinful than I ever dared believe, but that I am even more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I turn from my old life of living for myself. I have nothing in my record to merit your approval, but I now rest in what Jesus did for me and ask to be accepted into your family for his sake. Amen.**
I especially love the I-am-MORE parts.
I am more flawed than I ever dared believe.
But I am more loved than I ever dared hope.
Are you carrying a pillowcase with rocks and rags? I try to hide mine in my purse. (One of my rags features PRIDE and CONTROL.) The only way to be free is to cast our rag bags toward the cross.
Toward the God who loves and accepts us more than we dared hope.
That’s cause for a Happy Dance, don’t you think?
** Check out the prayer of confession (and more) from Tim Keller’s How_Can_I_Know_God.