Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
What a bold prayer. Taking inventory is not an easy step. In fact it is quite a bold one. For such a long time we have covered the truth even from ourselves. We have found ways of making the unacceptable acceptable. Sugar-coating our sin, we have continued to hide it from others … and even our own consciousness … neglecting to note the destructive power it has over our lives. Sin is not so bad because other people find out about it. Sin is destructive because (1) it moves us farther from God rather than closer and (2) it destroys our physical lives, sometimes in ways we cannot recover. So taking a personal inventory and asking God to be in on the process is a bold move. As you begin your list, are you starting with the stuff that most people know? If you’re honest, are you flinching as you write? I hope so. Because if you’re not, then either you are pure as the snowcovered mountains …or you are such a proficient liar you cannot see the truth about yourself.
But I’m not too worried about that. I think most of us are all too aware of our sins. It’s the controlling nature of them that we struggle with. We make resolutions and before the day is out we have broken them. We think we have them under our control, and before long we have lost control (control we never had to begin with!). The point for all addicts is to invite someone in who can control these urges and give us power to overcome. A “higher power” named Jesus. The prayer above is not simply to be examined … known … but led … in some everlasting path.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD. (Lamentations 3:40)
Yes, it’s time to test … examine. And we do that by writing it down. All of it. I like what Don Umphrey wrote about this. “Since an inventory includes taking stock of everything present, it is probably a good idea to include both good and bad points … It is the purpose of the step to take an honest appraisal of ourselves so that we can walk closer to God – not to drive ourselves into the ground so we can’t walk at all.” (12 Steps To A Closer Walk With God, p. 54) So, this is not for the purpose of proving our unworthiness. It is for the purpose of seeking forgiveness from God.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Getting started with the inventory is hard because of our shame … our willingness to hide the truth even from ourselves … and even to write it before God’s eyes. However, we can never surprise Him … He already knows. And He is more than willing to forgive. So, my friends, search your hearts. Expose the dark places. Let the light of His grace shine upon your reality so that He can lead you into His brilliantly bright truth. Bathe this process in prayer. It is a matter of trust. He has proven Himself faithful even when we were faithless. The search is bearable in light of his eternal mercy.
Reflections on the Twelve Steps are previously found in the following posts: