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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Monday, July 19, 2010

THE ACQUITTAL

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, . . . to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Several months ago a friend of mine sent me a devotional book entitled, JESUS CALLING. What makes this book different from other devotionals is that it’s written from Jesus’ point of view. It reads like Jesus Himself is speaking to you in quiet, personal, intimate conversation between friends. Opening this book every morning is like sitting down across from my Best Friend and listening to Him tell me those things He wants me to know.

I know . . . the Bible tells us everything He wants us to know, and please understand, I’m not discounting God’s word in any way. Sometimes, however, when I read a blog or an article or a devotional or even the words to a hymn written with God’s word as its basis or theme, it speaks to me from a different angle, a different point of view. Using scriptures I’ve read a hundred times before, this devotional book shapes them in such a way, my heart “hears” them with fresh ears.

Thus it was on July 3. It just so happened that it was my birthday, and when I went into my office and pulled out my Bible and devotional book, I asked God to give me something I really needed. The entry for July 3 grabbed my heart and shook me. For years I’ve struggled with the issue of forgiveness—not forgiving others--forgiving myself. The old adage that says we can’t turn the clock or the calendar back and do things over has been a millstone around my neck. Life doesn’t give us do-overs, and I nurtured a guilt that I intended to carry for the rest of my life. I knew God forgave me, but that’s because He’s God and in His omnipotent love—a love we can’t wrap our mind around—He forgives completely and absolutely. But I’d told myself I'm human, and in that humanness, I can’t forgive that way. So I took on a burden God never intended for me to carry, and it weighed me down and began affecting other areas of my life as well.

As I read the words of that short devotional on July 3, a new clarity dawned. The entry said that Jesus is the only capable Judge, and He has acquitted me through His blood. I have been acquitted—declared not guilty. And since my acquittal came at the price of Jesus’ sacrifice, who am I to refuse to forgive myself when Jesus has declared me innocent? The scriptures listed in the devotional were ones I’d read a hundred times or more. I’d believed them and used them in talking to others about the Lord. I had claimed His forgiveness for my salvation and praised Him for His demonstration of love. I’ve known His forgiveness for many years. So why did I nail guilt over this one issue to my soul? How could I say I claimed his forgiveness of all my sins . . . except this one?

Most of us who have lived for any length of time have known regrets or wish we’d done something differently. But when I finally understood how offensive my refusal to forgive myself was to Jesus, I was able to let it go. Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Instead of walking through the rest of this life dragging a chain of condemnation, I can now run with a freedom I’ve not allowed myself for several years. Because when Jesus gave His blood as a sacrifice for me, it was all-inclusive, and I’m forgiven.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.

2 comments:

Rose McCauley said...

Hey, connie, no wonder we share such a bond--we have the same birthday! Loved this piece and hope to order this book. rose

Tracy said...

thank you for sharing! I too have carried that guilt, like a well worn quilt around my soul. I don't know that I am totally free from it, but I feel the weight of it being lifted, little by little, in the quiet moments with the Lord. Keep blogging! Love you xo