There is guilt in my parenting. (“Mommy, how come I’m the last one to be picked up from school?”)
There is pain in my marriage. (“Why would he bring that up when he knows how much it hurts me?”)
There is stress at my workplace. (“For once, I would love to walk into a Monday where I don’t have a gnawing pit in my stomach from the night before.”)
When I was young and full of ambitions and dreams, there was never even the slightest inkling of guilt, pain or stress in my future.
Yet, there they are, faithful to the end–in good times and bad, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health: guilt, pain and stress.
What’s the point of being a Christian if all that follows me is guilt, pain and stress? What is the purpose of taking up His cross when I never seem to get rid of this guilt, pain and stress? Why is guilt, pain and stress the defining cornerstone of so many days of my existence here on earth?
Because I’m forgetting. And, Lord, forgive me for always forgetting, but I find again that I am forgetting.
Forgetting who I am.
Forgetting whose I am.
I look to the Word for answers, and I come face-to-face with Paul.
Ahh, Paul. Have I ever told you how much Paul annoys me? Not quite my nemesis, but definitely someone I don’t want crashing my dinner party.
Give me my Abraham, David and Peter—my fallen heroes who are human, just like me. But Paul, Lord? He’s always so sanctimonious and self-righteous, Lord! Why Paul, Lord?
Really, Lord, really?
Because all that seemed to follow him was guilt, pain and stress.
Guilt over the murder of thousands of Christians before his conversion:
“For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.” 1 Corinthians 15:9
Pain over the fact that the church he first built now insulted him and questioned his authority:
“For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you”. 2 Corinthians 2:4
Stress over constant persecution, imprisonment and torture:
“…We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
All that followed Paul was guilt, pain and stress.
But the difference between him and me is that he never forgot.
Never forgot who he was.
Never forgot whose he was.
When you forget your New Covenant that you entered into with Christ:
1) You forget how to walk through life boldly and confidently. (“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12)
2) You forget how to experience intimacy with your Creator. (“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)
3) You forget that life is not about jumping from difficulty to difficulty, but being changed more and more into His likeness. (“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)
Isn’t it time you stopped forgetting, and started remembering?
Isn’t it time to live life passionately, intimately and continuously refreshed?
I’m ready. Are you?
When was the last time you experienced any of guilt, pain or stress?
Do you ever feel that life is about moving from one hardship to the next?
When was the last time you walked through life boldly and confidently?
When was the last time you experienced intimacy with your Creator?
When was the last time you felt transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit?
This week, write down a scripture on a notecard that renews your spirit. Turn to it each time you are chased down by guilt, pain or stress. Meditate on the scripture when the darkness tries to overtake you, and believe in faith that your situation is being transformed–that your life is being changed for the better.