How to Drop the Rock Go to: www.SeniorARK.com
Last week we looked at the nagging sense of guilt that so many Christians still carry around like a heavy rock that cannot be put down. We know that Jesus died to wash away our transgressions. The scriptures say that God "remembers them no more." We understand that we cannot erase them by ourselves. And yet old guilt still haunts us at times. Guilt shuts us down, shuts us up, and shuts us off. The majority of the people in this world have the ability to alleviate their guilt through some kind of penance, but for some of us that is not enough. Nothing we do can erase the feeling of guilt and the knowledge we did something wrong. We risk making ourselves sick with worry and regret, and risk the lifelong pain of shame, depression, and anxiety. And even worse, we risk missing a close, open relationship with the God who has forgiven us, and "remembers our sin no more". In our guilt we spiritually hide from Him.
So then, what to do? Perhaps there are some practical steps we can take to find healing. I shall suggest a few.
(1) Take an inventory. Get out a piece of paper and write down everything you can think of that causes you to feel guilt about anything. This is very personal, so guard it carefully. Think about each item on the list. If it is a very long list, wonder if you are being realistic. Are you really feeling wounded from yelling at Jimmy when you were 5 years old. If so, keep it on the list. I have seen lists pages long. Ask yourself if all of this is guilt, or is some of it a kind of perverse pride that we just like to beat ourselves with.
(2) Talk with a trusted person. Is there someone in your life, or a pastor, priest, or counselor that you trust completely? Find someone and discuss your list with them. There is something about sharing guilt with another human being that puts it all into perspective. If you are having trouble finding someone, I have a novel idea: call your local Alcoholics Anonymous group. Ask for someone with long term sobriety to call you. They have dealt with this exact thing before, and if you find someone to talk to, your discussion will remain confidential and "anonymous." When you meet, your name isn't even necessary.You may find that you have not been very good at being bad! You may begin to feel a sense of cleansing.
(3) Make Amends. Have you found that there is someone out there that you will need to make amends to? Approach this very carefully, discussing it with God and your confidant in step 2. Have you noticed that people who have committed a crime many years earlier, one day walk into a police station and confess. They are wounded, and need relief. Jail is better for them than the weight of secret guilt. But making amends is more than just confession. It is "making right", maybe even making restitution, as best you can. It takes courage to ask for forgiveness. It takes inner strength to reach out to those we have wronged. It takes a loving heart to admit sorrow and contrition. Critical, but not an act to be rushed into.
(4) Pray. Ask God to, once and for all, remove the painful weight you have felt from old, unresolved guilt. Ask Him to help you to drop that rock forever. Sin and failure are human. Your God knows that. He made you, and all that you are. And today, he loves you---as you are.
The book of Romans says that we have been justified by the blood of Christ. The word justification means "Just-as-if-you-had-never-sinned." It means much more than forgiveness. As God looks at us this very moment, he has not only forgiven us, but does not even remember those things that may still be weighing us down with guilt. If God has forgotten them, it is time we do the same. We are no longer meant to live under guilt. My fellow Christians, isn't it time we drop the rock?
"May Thy rich grace impart,
Strength to my fainting heart, My zeal inspire.
As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee,
Pure, warm, and changeless be,---- a living fire!"
PRAYER: Father, forgive us for trying to carry what you have lifted forever. Help us as we seek to drop the woundedness we still experience from old acts in our lives, we pray in the name of Him who took the weight of all our sin upon Himself. Amen