GUILTY AND GROUNDED
If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.
I like to listen to sermons. It is how I normally spend my time when I am working out, driving in the car, or getting ready in the morning. Listening to sermons is a great way to learn, grow, and gain new insights into the character and grace of God.
Recently, I was listening to a message from apologist Ravi Zacharias. He read a prayer from a French cleric named Michael Quoist that really spoke to my heart. In this prayer, Quoist was overwhelmed by guilt and shame over his most recent failure. See if you can relate to the imagery he uses to depict the wretchedness of his sin and the corresponding despair.
I have fallen, Lord, once more.
I can’t go on, I’ll never succeed.
I am ashamed, I don’t dare look at you.
And yet I struggled, Lord, for I knew you were right near me, bending over me, watching.
But temptation blew like a hurricane,
And instead of looking at you I turned my head away.
I stepped aside while you stood, silent and sorrowful,
Like the spurned fiancè who sees his loved one carried away by his rival.
When the wind died down as suddenly as it had arisen,
When the lightning ceased after proudly streaking the darkness,
All of a sudden I found myself alone, ashamed, disgusted, with my sin in my hands.
This sin that I selected the way a customer makes his purchase,
This sin that I have paid for and cannot return, for the shopkeeper is no longer there,
This tasteless sin, this odorless sin, this sin that sickens me,
That I have wanted but want no more,
That I have imagined, sought, played with, fondled, for a long time;
That I have finally embraced while turning coldly away from you,
My arms outstretched, my eyes and heart irresistibly drawn;
This sin that I have grasped and consumed with gluttony,
It’s mine now, but it possesses me as the spider’s web holds captive the fly.
It is mine, it sticks to me, it flows in my veins, it fills my heart.
It has slipped in everywhere, as darkness slips into the forest at dusk
And fills all the patches of light.
I can’t get rid of it. I run from it the way one tries to lose a stray, mangy dog,
But it catches up with me and bounds joyfully against my legs.
Everyone must notice it.
I’m so ashamed that I feel like crawling to avoid being seen,
I’m ashamed of being seen by my friends, I’m ashamed of being seen by you, Lord,
For you loved me, and I forgot you. I forgot you because I was thinking of myself
And one can’t think of several persons at once.
One must choose, and I chose.
And your voice, and your look and your love hurt me.
They weigh me down.
They weigh me down more than my sin.
Lord, don’t look at me like that,
For I am naked, I am dirty, I am down, shattered,
With no strength left.
I dare make no more promises,
I can only lie bowed before you.
Have you ever been there? Are you there right now? Does it seem hopeless for you to ever be forgiven and enjoy the smile of God upon your life again? It is not. Notice the biblical response of God that Quoist records:
Come, son, look up.
Isn’t it mainly your vanity that is wounded?
If you loved me, you would grieve, but you would trust.
Do you think that there’s a limit to My love?
Do you think that for a moment I stopped loving you?
But you still rely on yourself, son.
You must rely only on me.
Ask my pardon and get up quickly.
You see, it’s not falling that is the worst,
But staying on the ground.
Don’t stay on the ground another second. Confess your sin to the Lord, turn from them, and begin walking in the joy of complete forgiveness. Living under guilt and shame is not the way God wants you to live. Choose to live in the wonder of His grace.
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.