It’s An “Our We Us” Thing

I prayed, “O my God, I am utterly ashamed;
I blush to lift my face to you.
For our sins are piled higher than our heads,
and our guilt has reached to the heavens.
Ezra 9:6 NLT

One of my sons has a very loud conscience. It is rare that he can go much longer than a day before he confesses about something that he did, even if no one else saw it happen. We just recently had a talk about how it’s better to tell the truth about a poor choice than to lie, so I think some of the flood of confessions is also related to that. He enjoys the partial “immunity” that honest confessions offer. This past week, most of them have been about “accidental” nose picking.

The authentic sorrow and remorse he feels with even the most minor of offenses melts my heart. He expresses genuine frustration over the times he repeats the same poor choice. I can’t help but think about how shallow my confessions are in comparison. At some point, I learned to hide this humble, authentic form of confession. I convinced myself that my sins are just lapses in judgment or some other justifiable event; it’s not like I murdered anyone, right? But if I truly believe that I am saved by grace, wouldn’t my son’s response to sin be more appropriate than my grown-up version? When did I become too big to confess with rolling tears, dripping snot and genuine sorrow? How can I make sure that my sons never grow out of this honest, authentic, and humble heart?

I found my answer in the end of Ezra. Ezra led a second wave of people back from the exile almost 60 years after the first group. Almost immediately upon returning, he was presented with the information that many of the Israelites – including religious leaders – were living in direct conflict with God’s will. They had intermarried people from the surrounding countries, people who worshipped false gods and introduced pagan practices that tore apart God’s covenant with his people. Ezra wasn’t guilty of this sin but when he heard about it, he responded with deep grief, as though it were his own sin. As he went before God in prayer to confess these sins and ask for forgiveness, there was something extremely unique about how he did it. He confessed as one who was also guilty of hurting God, rather than pointing fingers at everyone else’s guilt or justifying his sins as less because they were different.

“I prayed, ‘O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens… And now, O our God, what can we say after all this? For once again we have ignored your commands!'” (Ezra 9:6, 10)

Ezra’s prayer of confession is flooded with full, shared ownership of the problem. In the whole nine-verse-long prayer, he uses the words “our,” “we,” and “us” 49 times. Ezra models for the entire Israelite community as well as for us today that this is not just a “me” or a “you” problem. We are all guilty together. I am wasting my time taking comfort in the fact that I’m not a murderer. My son’s response to his own sin, my response to my neighbor’s sin, to the murderer’s sin, and to my own sin, should all be the same. The true offense [in all cases] is that we have hurt our relationship with God. We have sinned. We are guilty. And, because of ONE perfect gift, we are forgiven.

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NLT)

Challenge: When my children sin, I will pause and authentically share in their disappointment, pray with them – asking for forgiveness for our sins, and LOUDLY, JOYFULLY celebrate our forgiveness and freedom!


Dear Lord, I am sorry for becoming calloused to my sins and justifying them as nothing more than part of my learning curve. Keep me from separating myself and my actions from the community of family and friends you have surrounded me with. Lead us to all confess to each other, pray with each other, and love each other as you first loved us. Soften our hearts to the pain and suffering all around us and move our hearts, hands and feet to offer grace as you offer it freely to us. Amen.

photo credit: <a href=””>ajusticenetwork</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

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About messyworship

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I believe that you can bump into God outside of a Sunday morning church service. That is what Messy Worship is: a written meditation with an authentic, transparent take on the Bible's application to today's world. This is where I challenge myself to blurr the line between "life" and "worship" so much that the line disappears a little more each day. I hope, by sharing what I learn, the idea of a seamless life of worship becomes contagious.

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  1. Author Image

    Thanks Emily; your messages always get me.

    Nick / Reply
  2. Author Image

    Hi Emily

    I am “catching up” on Messy Worship today (in bed, awaiting room service …so slow on Mondays). Thank you for the reminders you’ve given me. We continue to struggle to “get along” with one another, especially during this extensive free time together. Thank you for reminding me to incorporate God’s word into my re-direction when we get short with one another. Between Connection groups I get so lost with what part of the Bible I should study…and flounder like a lost duck who fell asleep on the pond when the rest of the flock flew south…bummer. I will now remember to consult Messy Worship more regularly to help me to stay more deeply in the Word. It directs me to a place…a place in the Bible to start or continue studying. I am going to start with Ezra (I forgot there was a book of Ezra). Thank you for your honesty as you put your heart on the WWW for everyone to see in all of its transparency! 🙂

    Jennifer / Reply
    • Author Image

      You should totally read Ezra! It’s only 10 chapters long and it’s pretty cool, especially when you picture all the history that it took for them to get to that point. Nehemiah is a really great one to start with, too! It’s fun to read because it’s written in first person so you can imagine he is telling you his story himself. xoxo

      messyworship / (in reply to Jennifer) Reply

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