Saying that I am free from guilt, and experiencing freedom from guilt, are two different things.
On one aspect, I am sitting with full control of my life, stable in my emotion, and understanding the truth of who God is, and what He has done in my life. I feel security and sureness of God, and I know with firm belief that God will not abandon me.
One the other hand, I feel my heart, guilt-filled, unable to imagine myself looking into the eyes of those I have failed or fallen short, wanting to disbelieve the truth that God has declared in my life. The feeling of worthlessness and need to atone for my sins is ever-present and burdening over my heart, even as the words of truth enter my mind:
“He atones for our guilt, and removes our shame.”
When I think about it, I can’t help but want to sob when I am in the midst of guilt. I don’t deserve to be free of it. I don’t want to be free from it. These chains that hold me should stay on me, and noone has the right to free me because the weight of my sin cannot be beared by anyone except by me.
Except that’s not the case.
Jesus took my guilt. He took on what I knew I deserved. What I couldn’t even be willing to let go. He willingly said to me, “Eric, you are atoned for your guilt. Though you feel it, you no longer need to avert your eyes towards the people that you’ve done wrong to, gazing away and hiding in shame. Don’t wallow in it anymore. There is no need. Your sins are forgiven. Live freely. Live righteously. Not because you are righteous, but because I am taking what you deserve. I love you. Don’t forget my love. Live with that love. Don’t just say what you know, but live what you know.”
I can’t bear to accept what I don’t deserve. I don’t want to. But that is grace.
Grace that looks at someone who deserves nothing, and is willing to give everything. Grace that pours out even when that someone feels that a given threshold of grace has been satisfied. Grace that loves so uncomfortably that someone is left speechless, unable know what to do, unable to push away that grace, and only able to helplessly receive.
I live in that grace daily. We live in that grace daily.
I forget it time and time again. In fact, I still forget that feeling of grace that flows through every fiber and being of my life. But I know that grace will be there always. That is the nature of what Christ did for me. That is the identity He has bestowed upon me.
Fallen yet grace-filled. Guilt-felt but overwhelmingly forgiven.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
- Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
Thank you Jesus for who you are.