The Sin That So Easily Entangles

March 17, 2010 | 35 comments

Sometimes the sin feels so heavy,
we don’t know if we’ve the strength to heave it.

That must have been how the woman felt that day, when she came to me crying. I was sitting at the lunch table, with half-a-dozen others at a women’s retreat. She grabbed my elbow and pleaded.

“It’s so big, Jennifer. It’s so big,” she said. “And I’ve kept it inside for so, so long.”

I stood up and slipped an arm around her waist. We walked to the other side of the building, away from the others. She wanted to confess the Monster she’d been carrying all these years.

And yes, it was a Monster. It was a bloated, rotting, vile Sin-Monster. And yes, it was big — so big that it dug its claws into her heart and she couldn’t figure out how to shake it off.

We both knew Someone bigger.

She said she just wasn’t sure how to give it to Him all by herself. And I’d been there before, too, needing a Spirit-sister to go with me.

“Would you be willing write it down?” I asked her, and passed her a scrap of paper I’d ripped from the side of an envelope. “Could you name it?”

So she wrote the name of the thing she’d done on ragged paper, and we found a lighter by the altar. We slipped out the back door, and huddled on the back step of a patio.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us,” I said. “Do you believe that?”

Yes, she said, yes, I do.

And she held the paper, and I clicked the lighter, and the paper sizzled, and the penned-word curled under a flame, and she dropped the burning Monster to the pavement.

And she wept. And so did I.

Where do we go with all of this sin?

We drop it at the cross — the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree. It is the altar of sweetest sacrifice.


Jesus carried the sin of mankind on His back. And today, as we approach ever-closer to Easter, we need not cheapen the cross by thinking that the sacrifice He made wasn’t big enough to carry our sin.

He can handle our Monsters, as heavy and cumbersome, and as vile and ugly as they are. We may lay them down at the Calvary altar.

No sin is too big for a God even bigger.

Neither is our sin too small to lay at His feet.

He wants it all.

He gave it all.

He took it all. All.

It is finished.” — John 19:30

Are you having trouble letting it go? Perhaps we all do, from time to time. It can just feel so … big.

Consider naming the monster. Confess it by writing it on a rock and tossing the rock into a river. Or, write your burdens on a slip of paper, and send it out with the day’s garbage. Tell a friend. Or confess it personally in prayer. Or, perhaps, burn your list of transgressions in a fire.

Last night, I wrote my (many) sins on a slip of paper, and watched them turn to ash.

Father, let me not pick it back up again. For You said from the cross: “It is finished.”

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp and her community of pilgrims as we consider spiritual practices that draw us nearer to the heart of Christ. Today, we consider ways we Prepare for Easter.
Photo: My sins, set afire last night.

by | March 17, 2010 | 35 comments


  1. cindy

    Your words carry such comfort. I wish that I lived close to you and could be your friend.

    Your friends and family are very blessed to have you.


  2. Andrea

    Thanks for speaking to my heart again, today.
    Hugs, andrea

  3. Julie

    Once again you have brought me to tears.

    We all need to let go of what holds us captive. It so much better when we let it out and make it something tangible that we can physically let go of.

    You, are an amazing friend. How blessed this sister is to be able to confide in one who will stand with her and fight with her. But most importantly, will walk with her to the foot of the cross and sit there with her.

    Hugs to you and to her. Sending a prayer up for her.

  4. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    Jennifer – I just love this. There is something so symbolic about what you posted doing. At an encounter weekend I went to last year, we had something called "dying moments" and it was sorta like this. Very freeing and very moving.

    Love you sweet friend!

  5. Laura

    I am so grateful for your willingness to be that Spirit-sister…Spirit-friend.

    I think I too will do this little exercise. I need to burn some baggage.

    Thank you, Jennifer.

  6. jasonS

    Very powerful (in words and deeds). It can seem so rudimentary, but we don't deal with things and allow God to take them until they're threatening to overwhelm us… Thanks Jennifer.

  7. contented sparrow

    yes, yes, yes…thank you for the reminder that we don't need to carry that heavy load on our backs…on our hearts. why do i so often willingly carry it around? He wipes our blood red hearts as white as snow!

    Blessings to you, Megan

  8. Andrea

    I gratefully read this post, Jennifer. It reminded me of my own deep needs.

    We can see someone else, read about someone else, think about someone else, but you brought the truth to our doorstep.

    We must look at it, the sin in our lives, whether writing it on a rock or piece of paper or whatever. Then, we must deal with it, confessing it and casting it away.

    Thank you for such soul searching words. Such beautiful truth I will personally clasp today.



  9. Stephani

    More beautiful words the Lord has given you today. Thanks for letting him speak through you.

  10. Lisa notes...

    Naming the monster…that is a wonderful idea. I love your wording of the cross "the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree." I was blessed by reading your post today. Thank you.

  11. Warren Baldwin

    Good theology and psychology here. You handled that situation well.

  12. alicia

    What an awesome lesson as we near Easter. I think too often that most of feel that while we know others sins are taken care of, ours is so much bigger, and yet nothing is bigger than God. You reminded me of Selah's song "The Werrible Wonderful Cross"

  13. Beth E.

    It's always the hardest to forgive ourselves. Thank you for a powerful post, Jennifer.


  14. Lyla Lindquist

    We need not cheapen the cross.

    Exactly what we do, isn't it?

    I know big sin. I know its weight. I have my own that threatens to undo me every. single. day.

    And yet, would I really dare to look God in the eye and tell Him that He didn't do enough for me? That He isn't enough for me?

    Seems I've told Him as much a time or two. Amazing that He and His mysterious tree are enough for that sin too.

    You cut me to the core, Jennifer. Keep it up please.

  15. Cherie

    I love the imagery of those ashes. No matter how hard you tried you could never peice them back together. That's some powerful grace!

    Thanks for sharing that story! Praise God for His victory in that woman's life!

  16. Monica Sharman

    And another kind of fire burns so strong in you that, when I get close, it blazes in me, too.

  17. RCUBEs

    Your post brought me back to those times when I couldn't forgive someone. Until I finally had the courage to write down the things that person had done and burned that paper as I confessed my unforgiving spirit to the Lord. As many tears fell, my heart and my shoulders felt so light as the paper was burning in front of me.

    Thank you for reminding us sister that "it is finished". Glory to God! Blessings.

  18. Karen

    "He wants it all.

    He gave it all.

    He took it all. All."

    Then the imagery of your story…

    My heart is full…this post has blessed me so much….

  19. elaine @ peace for the journey

    Sin and all its "tangling" fits well with the flames of Calvary. I think it very good and healthy to have a tangible, visible reminder of our "letting it go" and giving it all to Jesus.

    Beautiful remembrance. Thank you for being a Jesus-embrace to a friend in need. We need more of you in this life.


  20. Runner Mom

    Beautiful…thank you for sharing this. I pray that the precious lady is experiencing the peace that only God can provide.

  21. A Simple Country Girl

    Even though we know what He has done for us, sometimes it does take the folded hands and encouraging hearts of a friend or two to walk us to that cross… That gal touched freedom with you at her side. What a blessing. For you both.

    Burning. Writing. Tossing. Trashing. Telling.


    We did this one year for our church service. Each took their sin-laden paper and grasped the hammer and held the nail. Pound! Pound! Pound! Sins nailed to the cross. Each pound of my own (and all the others) was as if it pierced me through. I wept with each strike. As He died for each sin.

    For I pounded His nails too…

  22. Nichole

    AWESOME post… thank you for sharing that!
    WOW, what a truly symbolic reverence made to our King, I like those ideas of casting our bondage's of sin into something we can destroy physically…. as a reminder of what you so eloquently said, leave it at the foot of the cross!!!

    The enemy wants to take down as many Christians as he can before his ultimate fall and the times are pressing us, don't lose heart, keep the faith… talking about these things and sharing it in the way you expressed, surely can make our Armor stronger! Way to go.

    Bless you Sister 🙂

  23. Kristine

    Oh I have been there. Thank you for sharing this.

  24. Aundria B.

    I miss being able to do that with another, whether being the confessor or being confessed to. There was a season that I grew tremendously through these simple yet so profound acts of confession, acceptance, forgiveness and release, that are so lacking in my life now. There's been too much heartbreak, loss & betrayal these last years, that the thought of opening my heart again is just too overwhelming & it's been easier, albeit lonelier, to just keep people out.

    I almost didn't read this post because honestly, I've been pretty much avoiding anything Christianity-related these last few years for reasons I alluded to above. But I'm glad I did because your tale reminded me of some of the safe people in my life that I've kept at arm's length recently and that He wants me let back in again. And that He has other safe places for me to go to get the help I need, if I'll trust Him again.

    Thank you.

  25. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus


    I'm so very glad you stopped by. My heart aches any time that I hear a story like yours. Unfortunately, we Christians repeatedly fail in our mission to "be Jesus" to a broken and hurting world. Much good has been done in the name of Jesus, but we Christians have caused much hurt, too.

    Ghandi once said: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." That pains me …

    Thankfully, our God's love is unfailing and it DOES flow powerfully even when we humans fail. (And we WILL fail.)

    Once we've been burned, it can be hard to step back into community. I do pray today, Aundria, that you can find a place where God's grace flows through others abundantly.

    Love is risky, isn't it? Any time we step out and love and share and take off our veils and expose our hearts, we risk being hurt. I pray, now, that God would put a hedge of protection around your heart, and that He would draw you closer still to His heart through a group of grace-giving Christ-followers. I pray that you can share in community once again.

    Thank you, dear sister, for writing.

    As a side note, you mentioned that you almost didn't read this post. Guess what? I almost didn't write this post. Isn't that something?
    Perhaps the Holy Spirit nudged us both out of our comfort zones.

    Blessings to you, sister …

  26. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Hi Lisa, the wording "the wonderful, tragic mysterious tree" comes from a song entitled: "Beautiful, Scandalous Night."

    If you click on those words within the post (highlighted in color) it will take you to the song at

    It's a beautiful, haunting song.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  27. Rose

    wow what a powerful post and AMEN!

  28. lynnrush


  29. Tea With Tiffany

    Glory to God for finishing the job we are not able to complete. He paid it ALL!

    Beautiful, friend.

    Hugs and love…

  30. Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife

    I'm so thankful that my sin is gone thanks to the blood of Jesus!

  31. Chris Godfredsen

    Sorry for my absence – life is full of things that get in our way. Okay, consider that a rock thrown into the rising Rock river.

    Like you, I pray that as I discard, throw and/or burn the vile, disgusting sin in my life that I don't pick them back up again.

    Praise God that It is finished!!!

  32. Chris Godfredsen

    Sorry for my absence – life is full of things that get in our way. Okay, consider that a rock thrown into the rising Rock river.

    Like you, I pray that as I discard, throw and/or burn the vile, disgusting sin in my life that I don't pick them back up again.

    Praise God that It is finished!!!

  33. Billy Coffey

    I'm going to try this, Jennifer. No matter how many reams of paper I have to go through to do it.

  34. Kelly Langner Sauer

    I'll be thinking on this one today… Thank you for being unafraid to speak of it.


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