This morning as I walked on the beach and looked at the endless expanse of water, all I could think was:
Those words always paint a picture for me when I am at the beach. Interestingly, no one knows who wrote them. There is speculation that they were penned by a man living in an insane asylum. If that’s the case, he understood something in the midst of his insanity that I can rarely grasp. He knew and understood the expanse of God’s love. Not guilt – love!
I love that God and life continually bless me with new friendships. It’s one of His greatest gifts to me and I am especially blessed when those friendships endure the test of time. One of those friends is named Glenda.
I met Glenda about 20 years ago. My husband was travelling the country at the time and had met Glenda’s family 2 years prior. His love for them was immediate. They didn’t live particularly close to us so when Tim kept asking if I would go meet them, I honestly didn’t see the point. While I genuinely love people, I’m not generally a camp-out-with-them kind of girl. But because it was important to Tim, I agreed to stretch myself and head north. It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
I could tell you a lot about Glenda, but all you need to know for the purpose of this particular blog is that Glenda has taught me volumes about letting go of guilt. And, more so, she has taught me about never picking it up in the first place. She lives by the I’m-not-carrying-that-around-with-me philosophy.
It’s a simple philosophy. If God convicts her about something, she confesses. Then she drops it and leaves it. Yes, really. She LEAVES it! It’s been quite a revelation to me of what is possible in the life of the Christian.
And about those things that involve self –imposed guilt or people-imposed guilt? They don’t get ten seconds of her time. Proper discipline of her children and now grandchildren? No guilt. Saying no because her plate is full? No guilt. Sleeping late? No guilt. More than two cookies at a time? No guilt. Not exercising today? No guilt. Buyer’s remorse? None. Choosing Biblical principles over political correctness? No guilt. Not supporting a cause that buried deep runs against her convictions? No guilt.
I’m not hard wired that way. I live more by the hello-guilt-can-I-give-you-a-piggy-back-ride philosophy. It’s a complicated philosophy. And it’s exhausting.
It’s a philosophy that often puts self and people on equal footing with God even though we’re not on equal footing – ever.
And carrying guilt so often gets in the way of understanding and experiencing God’s love.
So, today, I just want to remind you of the nature of God. His nature is love. I’m choosing to quote familiar passages using less familiar versions. Why? Because I hope that it will be harder for you to just mindlessly quote your way through if I use a version you haven’t committed to memory.
This is how much God loves you…
The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 Amplified Bible (AMP)
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. John 3:16-17 The Message
So today I celebrate. I celebrate by the sea. I celebrate a God of grace and love. I celebrate freedom from false guilt. And I’m really okay if you want to join my party. In fact, consider yourself invited. I’ll welcome you…even though I’m not a camp-out-with-you kind of girl.