Wednesday, January 8, 2014

God Enjoys Our Journey

“You’re guilty!”

“You’re a failure!”

“You've done it again!”

“These accusations were not audible charges leveled by a stern judge, a thundering preacher, or an angry parent. They are the self-criticisms and condemnations deep in the soul of every man...”

Those words on the back of a small paperback book, Guilt and Freedom, leaped out at me. That’s how I believed God viewed me.

When I was 5 years old, I’d invited Jesus into my life to be my personal Savior. I knew God loved me, but I didn’t understand then just how much He enjoys His relationship with us as His children.

During my early years, my parents operated a children’s home. As their eldest child, I can’t count how many times I heard my mother say, "AnnaLee, you've got to set a good example for the other children.” That was a heavy load for a young girl to carry. Later, as a P.K. (pastor’s kid), it was, “Set a good example for the church kids.”

My mother was a wonderful, loving mother, but she was a multi-talented perfectionist. I admired her and wanted to be like her. Everything I did, she would tell me how to do it better. I mistook instruction for criticism and began to feel that I could never please her. Soon, I began to expect perfection of myself too, but I couldn't please myself either.

In my childish understanding, I believed that God expected me to be perfect too—to act like a mature Christian even though I was still a child. Anger and jealousy were sins I must never feel. It wasn't until years later that I understood that they are God-given emotions to be harnessed for our well-being, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and sin not.”

No matter how hard I tried to be perfectly good, I made mistakes. I was cranky. I fought with my sister. I got jealous. I complained about chores. I would ask God to forgive me, but I imagined Him checking His records and scolding, “You've done it again? I’ll forgive you this time. Just don’t you ever do it again.” Then I’d fail again. Romans 7 described exactly how I felt.

Well into adulthood, I carried a lot of guilt on my shoulders.

When I became a mother, I really enjoyed watching my son grow and learn to sit up, to walk, to talk, to feed himself. Oh, he fell down many times as he learned to walk. When he’d fall and cry, did I scold him? Of course not! I picked him up, hugged him, kissed his boo-boos, and encourage him to try again. When he learned something new, I was very proud of his progress. Even though he made many mistakes and wasn't doing anything perfectly, I enjoyed my son.

Around that time, I found that little book mentioned above, entitled Guilt and Freedom, by Dr. Bruce Narramore and Bill Counts. As I read it, I came to understand God in a whole new way. God knows we are human. As our Heavenly Father, He not only loves His children, He enjoys us in the same way we enjoy our children. God is even more patient with us as we learn and grow. When we are trying to obey Him but make mistakes, He is quick to forgive us when we repent (turn our backs on sin), confess it, and ask His forgiveness.

When we humans forgive, we still remember the injury. God is not like us in that respect. When we confess our sins, God forgives us and covers them with the blood of Jesus. They are erased from God’s sight, never to be remembered against us again (Isaiah 43:25). Our sins are expunged from the record. The slate is wiped clean. We enjoy freedom from guilt and have fellowship with God.

When my son was little, I'd often buy clothes that were too big for him, knowing that he would grow into them. When we ask Jesus into our lives, God sees us clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. He expects us to grow into that righteousness, but He knows it will take a lifetime. Only in heaven will we be made perfect.

God enjoys us and our journey with Him. Now I confess my sins, knowing that "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Now I enjoy the journey too. How about you?


  1. AnnaLee, thanks for this uplifting piece. The burden of guilt certainly tries to stamp out the joys in our lives. I'm thankful for your reminder that God rejoices in our individual journeys with Him.