Our little John has been struggling ever since we made him say goodbye to his beloved “paci.”
We often find him huddled in a ball of shame underneath the dining room table, sucking quietly away on a pacifier he swiped from his baby brother.
Then, not too long ago, he looked up at me with his baby blue eyes, handed me his pacifier, and said, “Hold this? It’s too big for me.”
My first inclination was that he had adorably misspoke and meant “I’m too big for it.”
But upon further reflection, I think he said exactly what he meant to say. The pacifier–and the temptation and shame that came along with it–had become too big for him, and he knew the only way he’d be at peace was if his mommy held it for him.
Pacifiers of the Soul
We all have our own pacifiers–the sins we secretly savor and want to hold on to.
At that moment, it was as if God was tenderly looking down at me, asking, “What pacifiers are you holding onto, Chelsea? It’s time you hand them over.”
For me, it’s entitlement. I feel like I deserve to be acknowledged for my work, to be treated better by others, and to have time to myself whenever I desire it. What about you?
Whatever it is, when sin and shame weigh heavy on us, we have two options: 1) we can choose to stay hidden under the table or 2) we can come out from under the table and hand it over.
In Psalm 38, David wisely chose to hand over his own pacifier to God. Overwhelmed by his sin, he cried out to God, “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” (Psalm 38:4)
How did he go about unloading this heavy burden? The rest of Psalm 38 lays out exactly how he turned over his sin to God: by bowing down, confessing his sin, and asking for help.
When the weight of sin is too big for you, bow down before God.
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning. (Psalm 38:6)
People from all different nations bowed down to David, the great king of Israel. In Psalm 18 we read, “You made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me.” (Psalm 18:43-44)
David knew what it meant to bow down. It meant that he was humbling himself–submitting himself–to a higher authority. In this case, God.
Notice he didn’t just sort of bow down either. He says he is “utterly bowed down and prostrate.” He humbled himself completely before his king.
When your sin is too heavy for you to carry, bow down completely before God and acknowledge him as your king. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,” Peter writes, “so that at the proper time, he might exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:6)
When the weight of sin is too big for you, confess it.
I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin. (Psalm 38:18)
When we lay ourselves down at the feet of Jesus, we can’t help but recognize how undeserving we are of God’s grace and mercy, and confession naturally will follow.
Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we may feel inclined to hide our sin out of shame and fear, but we need not fear the wrath of our great King Jesus. If we are in Christ, we know that he already bore God’s wrath for us on the cross. And because of this great act of love, he “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Yes, all unrighteousness. No sin is too great for God. David was an adulterer and a murderer, and yet God still forgave him. “As far as the east is from the west,” David writes, “so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
When your sin is too heavy for you to carry, bow down and confess it to Jesus, our good and faithful king.
When the weight of sin is too big for you, ask for help.
Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation! (Psalm 38:22)
We can’t just unload our sins on God and move on. Repentance involves two steps: turning away from sin and turning towards Christ.
John Piper defines repentance as “experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience.”
We can’t change our minds in our own strength, though. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and transform our hearts, so we must ask him for help. After all, the Father gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and to remind us of all that Jesus said. (John 14:26)
How does the Holy Spirit go about the work of teaching and reminding us? Mainly through the word of God.
God strengthens us through his word. As we read it, we learn more about who he is and what he’s done for us.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
When I am feeling entitled, God’s word reminds me that the only wage I deserve is death, but that instead, God has graciously given me eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
When I am harsh with my children, the Bible tells me that “a soft answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1)
When I am sinfully basing my identity on social media likes and comments, the Holy Spirit reminds me of who I am in Christ–chosen by God. (John 15:16)
God is waiting to help you, friend. If your sin is too heavy for you, be like David and ask for help.
Coming Out from Underneath the Table
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)
You don’t have to carry the weight of sin in your heart, dear sister. Come out from underneath the table, bow down, confess, and ask our good God for help. Let the Spirit search your heart today and give you the courage to hand over the pacifiers of your soul to the one who saved it for himself.
His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Like a mother with her child, your Heavenly Father is eager to give you rest.