Come on now, let’s walk and talk; let’s work this out. Your wrongdoings are blood red, but they can turn as white as snow. Your sins are red like crimson, but they can be made clean again like new wool. (Isaiah 1:18, VOICE) Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries. (1 Peter 5:7, VOICE)
One weekend at a women’s conference about eight years ago, I was both a witness and a participant in an amazing display of letting go of burdens. As the music played throughout the room, my eyes drifted to the cross at the bottom of the stage. Hundreds of women filed up to symbolically place the Post-it notes representing their sins, burdens, and anxieties on the cross.
Everything they worried about in the middle of the night.
Everything they struggled with daily.
The secret sins that no one else knew about.
With tears in their eyes, they placed their cares and burdens and worries on the cross as they placed them in the hands of their God who cares so much for them. I would imagine the cry of their hearts at the moment was something like, “Please understand me and accept me for who I am.” They were crying out for unconditional love. His answer is always, “I do understand, and I love you despite those burdens you carry.”
The notes were so numerous that they were spread all over the floor around the cross. It was an overwhelming amount of burdens from a group of women, and many of them were already followers of Christ.
As I struggled to fit all of my sins and struggles on a tiny Post-it note, I got a glimpse of God’s perspective of my sin. My big burdens aren’t as heavy to Him as they are to me. It was then that it hit me. The very cross that that He could not bear on His own on the walk to Calvary was made of wood—the very material of which our symbolic Post-it notes were made. Our sins are now weightless, just like those tiny Post-it notes, because Jesus already bore them on the cross. It was a powerfully moving moment when I realized that God is so much bigger than the sins that we either magnify or minimize in our own minds.
It is so significant when God says in Isaiah 1:18, “Let’s walk and talk; let’s work this out.” Several commentaries on this verse tell us that God is talking to us about the need to come to Him; and we shouldn’t to be afraid to come to Him. His conversation to you might sound something like this: Let me talk about this with you. You know the sin you think is unforgivable and overwhelmingly life-controlling? I’m not surprised by it. I know you and love you. Nothing is too big for my love to overcome. My Son already paid the price.
How amazing is that?
He wants us to let go of our burden of sin because He can handle it. He already knows about it, and, most incredibly, He wants to talk with us about it so that we can learn from it. He so desperately desires a relationship with us, even with all of our shortcomings.
In fact, He wants to know how we explain our sins to ourselves. He wants us to tell Him our understanding of ourselves and to reason it out. Sometimes we may not even know the reasons we continually hold onto certain burdens or sins in our lives, but we can then submit to His guidance in discovering the why. In order to walk and talk with God about our burdens and sins, we need to be honest with Him and give Him an explanation of our motives rather than an excuse. What’s the difference?
Explanations are relational and bring understanding.
They explain the motives and emotions behind an act and offer up an understanding of the person. When we reason with God about our sins and give explanation for their cause, we are opening ourselves up to His grace and mercy to forgive them.
When we give excuses, on the other hand, we are saying, “I can’t help it. This is just how I’m made. I cannot change.” Excuses will bring justice, which is what we deserve. There is no room for mercy and grace, because there is no responsibility taken. So with excuses there is only justice with consequence.
But explanation goes even farther than that. It gives context to “my crazy.” Sin is downright crazy if you think about it. Explaining helps me understand me (James 5:16) and helps you understand me. Not to minimize or excuse what I did—it’s more about understanding the why. Humans are hardwired to figure things out, to understand and to make sense of their world. People don’t seem as weird, scary, or menacing when we understand the “why” behind what they do. Note: this is why the “peace that passes all understanding” is so difficult for us—because we are hardwired to try and make sense of everything.
Even when the craziness of conflict and other worldviews constantly crashes through our consciousness and we seek to understand, we often fail and get angry or begin to condemn. But God is able to understand, enter in, be relational, and never make crazy, wrong behavior seem okay.
He is the ultimate, perfect relater.
So when we choose to explain own wrong choices or bad behavior, we begin to understand each other better and meet the basic human need of being understood, known, seen, and wanted. It is powerfully healing when we are known—really known: the good, the bad, and the ugly—and are still wanted and understood. That feeling of “you still want me and love me” even when we are fully known, warts and all, is so incredibly powerful.
It’s what God offers us, and we can do this for each other.
We have countless studies that reveal how powerful it is when people are connected and attached. We have more power when we are connected because our behaviors matter, making us matter. When we are involved with a community, we choose better on a more consistent basis and resist indulging in our weakness because we are in relationship with others. This is because they know of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and can then support and protect us. This is not to say that they are responsible for our weaknesses, but they give courage to us in our weakness. This is how we help each other “fight the sins that so easily beset us” (Hebrews 12:1).
This dynamic was so perfectly demonstrated by the relationship that Jesus had with his disciples. They were known and loved by Christ, and it brought out the best version of them, even when they failed.
We fight our sins better when we are not alone—this is why sharing who we are and why we do what we do is so powerful. When done correctly, we do not feel alone. The worst thing is for humans to be alone and struggling in loneliness. We sin most frequently when we are alone and disconnected, thinking that no one else understands us. We feel alone, unwanted, unseen, and unworthy.
When we are connected and engage in the explanation of our struggles, knowing and understanding their context helps to reestablish a connection, not explain away bad behavior. Context allows us to be seen, to be known, to be accepted, in spite of our troubles; it doesn’t minimize offense or take away consequences. Explanation helps us to see and know each other in the midst of, and truly in spite of, our behaviors. This ultimately helps us to work harder, fight harder to have our behaviors truly “match” who we are, versus our behaviors contradicting who we really are and ultimately want to be.
Galatians 6:2 says to share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (NLT). It’s connectedness, relationship, fighting together. Understanding each other. When we share our burdens with each other, we are given the opportunity to understand their struggles, pray for them, and reach out in compassion. We are given the divine opportunity to forgive as we have been forgiven.
Forgiveness is the antidote to sin.
When we walk and talk with God about our sins, He is increasing relationship with us, which ultimately strengthens us and helps us to endure and to fight against the pull of sin. But we need to be honest with God with how attached we are to our sin. Maybe your inner dialogue with God would sound something like this:
I’m embarrassed to say I like this sin.
I don’t want to give it up.
I’m angry that I can’t stop.
I’m so worried.
I’m really struggling here.
If you cannot relate with this dialogue, honestly and prayerfully consider what a more honest conversation with God sounds like for you.
Trust me when I say that God is not disgusted, weary, or sick and tired of hearing about our struggles. He understands, and He is not surprised at all. You can’t shock God, and remember who God has contended with—Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Satan. If He can handle these guys, He can handle us.
The bottom line is that He is willing to talk about our sin with us, willing and wanting to be in relationship with us, willing to talk about how big and how small our sin is. He sticks with us in the midst of the consequences of our sin, and will never leave us to contend with it alone—unless we choose to battle it alone.
The whole point of Jesus carrying the cross is that we are together in this. We are not alone! God doesn’t want us to struggle alone in our sin. He wants us to come to Him with all of our mess and talk with Him about it.
Come on now, let’s walk and talk; let me help you work this out. Your wrongdoings are blood red, but they will be turned as white as snow.
What are you struggling with today?
Make a commitment to tell one other person about your struggles and offer to support them in fighting their battles as well. Open your heart up to the community of understanding that awaits you when you share your heart with a trusted friend. You’re not meant to fight alone.
God is waiting to talk with you too. Don’t let another minute go by alone in your fight. Trust Him with the Post-it notes you would post on the cross. Even though they feel overwhelming to you, they are weightless to Him and He can handle them all. Let them go.
Come and lay them at the cross. He understands.
Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. —James 5:16 (AMP)