Have you ever experienced that haunting feeling? I don’t mean ghosts, goblins, and demons, but a weight of your incompleteness and failure. I think it is safe to say that we all have. We have all felt the weight of not meeting our goal, missing the mark, or failing to do the right thing. This week I have been reminded again of the value of God’s grace in my life and the life of my family.
As a result of surgery, a new baby, and an ugly sickness, my two oldest children Tuck and Charleigh spent the past two weeks with our parents. On Sunday our children returned home, and as always the grandparents brought stories. The story goes like this: Tucker, my rambunctious first born little boy, had been his usual self totally consumed with television, full of energy, independence, and rebellion. It was easily justifiable to say that Tucker had exercised rebellion against his Papa and Mimi. Sparing the details, Tucker had exercised rebellion to the point that Mimi and Papa were forced to take disciplinary action. The reality that Mimi and Papa both dispensed discipline is a very telling sign of the rebellion, hence Mimi and Papa are generally much more gracious that Lindsey and I.
Nevertheless, Tucker had a rough weekend as a result of his own actions. Upon the arrival of the kids back home, Mimi and Papa had shared all the details of the weekend with us, except for one detail, which disturbed me the most. I was sitting on the couch where I had been for the past three days, with my package of frozen peas, when I heard my wife of the phone with Mimi discussing the weekend. The discussion intrigued me, so as soon as Lindsey ended the conversation I questioned her. As Mimi tells the story, Tucker had deliberately disobeyed Mimi several times, but the day was coming to an end and Tuck and Charleigh were preparing for bed. From the solace of the bed, Tuck jumped and ran to his Mimi and said, “There is something in my ear telling me I’m a bad boy and it won’t stop.”
Two years ago as a young father I became vividly aware of the power of my words both negatively and positively. I had asked Tucker daily if he was a bad boy at school. His response was usually yes, but where it became scary for me was when the admission that he was a bad boy became a celebration. Tucker’s latest declaration of being a bad boy was not a celebration, but a picture of where we all are. We are accused and often rightfully so.
The Bible reveals that the greatest evil in the world lodges in a being. He is referenced as Lucifer, the Devil, and Satan, to name a few, but the interesting one at this moment is Satan. The word Satan can be translated “accuser”. The Bible gives several examples of Satan accusing humans of wrong doing before God, but I believe that Satan is guilty of accusing humans before themselves.
Just as my precious little boy begins to develop a conscience and must learn to listen to it, so we all have a conscience and must listen to it. By listen to it, I don’t mean always do what it says, I mean its haunting is inescapable. Many have tried to escape it, most notably Adolf Hitler, who said it was a Jewish blemish. Though we all may try to escape conscience, we cannot, what we must do is figure out how to deal with it.
Dealing with the conscience is a bizarre thing because it is difficult to determine when it is our conscience and when it is the accuser reminding us of our past, our failure, and our sin. Paul gives insight into the conscience in 2 Corinthians 7:10 saying, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
According to Paul, our conscience can produce two outcomes death or life (salvation). The secret of accusation is that it more often than not creates rebellion. The accused feels the need to defend themselves, to prove the accusations false. These feelings of accusation and guilt are problematic because they ignite our pride and strengthen our attempt to be righteous on our own merit. Unfortunately, no matter how strong our resolve is to be righteous, we fail. So the cycle of accusation and pride pushes us away from the one thing that can heal us, free us, and assure us. That one thing is grace. Grace says, “Tucker you disobeyed, but I will forgive you and will help you be good. You are a good boy, because you’re my boy and I will never leave you.”
Are you guilty? Are you accused? Are you caught in the cycle of rebellion? I assure you the only way back is to give up to someone stronger. Stop trying to fix everything and give up. Godly grief makes us give up.