Summer time has always brought to mind special memories from my childhood.
We had a rare family tradition every summer in our home; for in the summer months, I grew up on a very special island. Literally. An Island. Word of Life Island to be exact. Every summer of my life from the time I was born until I was 12 years old, my entire family would move to Word of Life Island for 11 of the most incredible weeks of the year. For those readers who are unaware of what Word of Life Island is: it is a week-long camp for teenagers on a 40-some acre island nestled in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, and it is a BLAST! A part of my father’s job while I was growing up was to live there every summer and direct the ministry, and we, as his family, were along for the ride.
I loved it. I owned that island. It was mine. I knew it like the back of my hand. I knew where the bat cave was located. I knew which section of the beach the clay deposit was the richest. I knew the spots where the campers would sneak away to when they were skipping the meetings. And I knew that if you wanted to make bank, setting up a lemonade stand at the top of Cardiac Hill on Saturday afternoons was a sure bet. And although time and new directors have changed much of its landscape, there are still aspects of that Island that feel like home.
One of my favorite things about living on the Island was direct and constant access to my father. In fact I even had a special door in his office we termed “Sarah’s door.” When wanting to talk to the director, my dad, a normal person would enter the lobby of the Administration building, turn the corner to a secretary’s office, ask permission or set up an appointment, and then only after being granted that permission would they finally enter my father’s office, but not me. For me behind my father’s desk, there was a back door, my door. If I wanted to speak to my father at any time, I would walk out of my house, down the hill a little ways, and walk right in to his office through my door. Even if he were in a meeting, he would take the 30 seconds it took to admire the art work I would bring or hear the complaint about one of my brothers. I had direct and constant access to my father all summer long.
Looking back on this now, I see the direct correlation my earthly father was making to my Heavenly Father. After all, that is the most important aspect of fatherhood, reflecting the character and fatherhood of your Heavenly Father to your children. My father did this well.
That door was a beautiful picture of the type of relationship I have with my Heavenly Father. As his child, I have direct and constant access to his presence anytime, anywhere, and for any reason.
So often, however, we confuse communication with confession and it stifles our relationship with God. Picture this: every woman knows if company is coming, you make sure your house is presentable. And if you know your house looks like an explosion in a department store, you avoid inviting people over to it. You don’t want them to see your mess. I have one roommate that as soon as she hears someone is coming over to the house, she makes a beeline for the bathroom to do a quick scrub down even if it’s not that dirty – it has to be pristine. I also know some people who never have company over to their homes because their houses are in a constant state of upheaval. As women we are prone to carry this mindset into our relationship with God. We think we have to “clean house” spiritually before any means of communication takes place. It’s like we think God will be distracted by the spiritual dirty dishes in our sink and not hear what we are saying. I have counseled girls who cannot talk with God because the guilt of their unconfessed sin weighs so heavily on their heart, they feel He could not possibly forgive them, let alone hear them. However, this could not be farther from what Scripture teaches:
“Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. THEREFORE, let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” Hebrews 4:14-16
Any study done on the Old Testament temple would supply one with an understanding of how vastly important the job of the high priest was to the Jewish community. He was an integral part of their salvation. He was the only one who was permitted to enter into the Holy of Holies, that inner sanctum in the temple where the presence of God dwelt. He was the only one given the job to intercede on the people’s behalf, to make atonements for their sins. He was the only one who placed the sacrifice on the altar so that the blood could appease the wrath of God. He was the key to Israel’s access to God. But even with a high priest, no one still could just enter in the Holy of Holies without facing certain and instant death. Then Christ came along, and changed EVERYTHING! He became our high priest, and his blood ultimately atoned for ALL of our sins. Done. “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:50-51) I love that the barrier between man and God was torn from the top to the bottom the moment that Christ died. This is so significant to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Because of Christ, we now have direct and constant access to God the Father.
So then, what is our problem? Why do we still hesitate? Why can we not confidently come into the presence of God? Watchman Nee candidly says, “The Blood (of Christ) has satisfied God; it must satisfy us also. I approach God through (Christ’s) merit alone, and never on the basis of my attainment; never, for example, on the ground that I have been extra kind or patient today, or that I have done something for the Lord this morning. I have to come by way of the Blood every time.” Nee suggests the cause for our hesitation is that we have believed the lies of Satan. “This is (Satan’s) argument, ‘You have sinned and you keep on sinning. You are weak and God can have nothing more to do with you.’ And our temptation is to look within and in self-defense to try to find in ourselves some ground for believing that Satan is wrong. He points to our sins and seeks to charge us with them before God, and if we accept his accusations we go down immediately. Satan has succeeded in making us look in the wrong direction. The Blood speaks in (our) favor, but (we) are listening instead to Satan.”
“There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God achieved what the law could not do.” Romans 8:1-3a
Don’t misunderstand me: Confession is important. I am in no way implying that we should ignore the dirty dishes in our proverbial sink. No. We must confess. It clears up my relationship with God (1 John 1:9). It provides peace from a troubled mind. (Psalm 38:18) It provides accountability to live a holy life (James 5:16). However, my access to God is not contingent on my confession. I don’t have to “clean up my act” before I lay my burdens down. I don’t have to have a sinlessly impeccable day in order to come into God’s presence. I don’t have to be perfect to pray. Scripture says I have no condemnation regardless of my confession because I am a daughter of the King. I have a door. His name is Christ. And He has given me direct and constant access to my Heavenly Father. I don’t have to clean house to communicate with Him. I just have to come, and HE will do the cleaning.
Phillipians 1:6 – “For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 2:13 – “For it is GOD who at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Romans 8:28 – “For we know that GOD causes all things to work together for good.”
Galatians 5:1 – “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
In all of those verses, God is the one doing the action. He is the one doing all the work. As believers, we have but one responsibility: to come to Him with a surrendered heart.
You have a door. His name is Christ.