Thursday, January 25, 2018


“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. Everything I did, she would tell me how to do it better. I 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. I believed I must never feel anger and jealousy because they were sins. It wasn’t until years later that I understood that they are God-given emotions to be harnessed for our well-being. “Be angry and sin not,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26.

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 ever do it again.” Then I’d fail again.

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. He’d cry. Did I scold him when he fell down? 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 wasn’t doing anything perfectly, I enjoyed my son.

Around that time, I discovered that little book 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 that set me free. God knows we are human. As our Heavenly Father, He not only loves His children, He enjoys us just as  we enjoy ours. 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. But God is not like us in that respect. When we confess our sins, God not only forgives us, but our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus and  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.

God enjoys our journey with Him.

Like the song says, “I am a friend of God; He calls me “Friend.” That thought overwhelms me. My Creator thinks of me as His friend!

For more than 65 years I’ve been walking with Him, and He’s never disappointed me.

At times my walk was like a child taking his first steps, but God has never kicked me when I was down. He always reaches out His hand and lifts me up.
  • He’s been with me through times of confusion, trouble, sorrow. 
  • He gives me peace and joy that nothing can take away.
  • As I read and study His love letters to me in the Bible, He gives me direction for my life and guidance for every problem.
  • When I have failed Him, He’s been faithful to forgive the moment I repent and call out to Him for forgiveness and help.
As a young girl, I learned a chorus that went, “Take the whole world, but give me Jesus.” I still say that because as long as I cling to Jesus as my Friend, I have everything I need:
  • Jesus assures me of salvation from sin. 
  • Jesus makes beauty out of our brokenness.
  • Jesus provides me with love and a sense of belonging—I’m a child of God and a member of His Family.
  • The God who sees even the tiny sparrow fall and knows the very number of hairs on my head is able to supply all my needs according to His inexhaustible supply.
  • God enables me to live a life that pleases Him.
  • As I walk with Him, He changes my “want to” and satisfies the longings and desires of my changed heart.
My life hasn’t been perfect. No one’s is. I’ve had my share of sorrows, difficulties, and failures, as well as successes and joys. But God has been with me through it all. He’s brought good out of the bad:

God carried me when as a college freshman in 1964 I heard that my hometown of Seward, Alaska, was on fire and the whole town had been wiped off the face of the map in a 9.2 earthquake, the strongest ever to hit North America. For a week I didn't know if I still had a family. 

As a result of that earthquake, 95 percent of the industrial area had been obliterated. I had no way to earn money that summer to go back to college. At the last minute, God provided a scholarship that covered my entire college education. I couldn’t go back to the college of my choice, but at my new school I met my husband.

God protected us when my husband and I, married less than 2 months, were flooded out of our home in the record-breaking flood of the Chena River in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1967.

When my husband shipped out for a year’s tour in the Vietnam War the day before our second wedding anniversary, God comforted us in the lonely hours and preserved our lives. My husband came home safe, the only officer in his advisory unit to come back alive. And I wasn't killed in a serious car accident while he was at war.

When we wanted to start a family and I couldn’t get pregnant, we prayed desperately for a child. In His perfect time, God gave us a son—our only child.

When my beloved foster sister died of cancer, leaving two young children behind, I didn’t get the answer to my prayers that I wanted, but God walked through that valley of the shadow of death with us. Even though I don’t understand all of God’s ways, I still believe God is good.

Through times of financial crisis, God supplied our needs, not necessarily our wants, but we never went hungry or homeless. God’s been with me through three serious car accidents, numerous injuries, surgeries, and health problems. Through sorrow and emotional hurts, God was there to comfort me. He’s taught me that my disappointments are really His appointments.

In spite of my mistakes, God has never walked away from me. When I failed, He always reached out His loving hand and lifted me up. Having a Friend who will “never leave me nor forsake me” has kept me from giving up on myself. 

Today, I can tell you that for 65 years I’ve walked with God, and I’ve found His promises are true. He is a faithful Friend. That’s the wonder of it all—that God, my Creator, walks with me through all my messes, restores me, guides me, and even calls me His friend!

Annie Johnson Flint, twice orphaned and afflicted with crippling arthritis in early adulthood penned this poem with crooked fingers and swollen joints. It been a favorite of mine since my teen years: 

What God Has Promised

God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God has not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, troubles and woe;
He has not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God has promised strength for the day
Rest for the laborer, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

Such a Friend! I recommend this Friend to you.

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