Guilt and Grace
By Jan Brand
It was a good day when someone told me Jesus was a better Savior than I was a sinner. Like the old song, “I was sinking deep in sin…”
For much of my life, I lived with fear. I can remember few times in my life when I wasn’t dogged by torment, and it always came down to my not being enough–fill in the blank.
I’m not talking about the kind of fear where you are afraid of the dark. I’m talking about cringing, heart-pounding, mouth drying, fear that left me weak and exhausted, sometimes for a day or two after the panic attack.
Everything represented a threat to my safety, or to my children. The torment seldom stopped. I felt helpless to the feelings that tortured me and left me reeling from the sense of frustration that I was branded with a big “L” on my forehead for “loser.”
Hope sometimes struggled to the top, and for a few days, weeks or months, I would function reasonably well, but then some trauma, usually related to the insecurity of my marriage, would pounce, and I would be locked up again.
For ten years this pattern persisted. Anytime fear yanked away my ability to reason, I was right back on the same old merry-go-round, going up and down and in circles of fear. Only my husband’s money insulated me from the consequences of my fears.
The first hope came when someone told me God loved me, warts and all. This was an amazing revelation after growing up in a church that pointed out my sinfulness every Sunday. I was saturated in my unworthiness. The pastor didn’t have to pound the podium to convince me, I knew I was lost as a goose. But now, someone said that I had value to God.
Value to God. It was like salve to my bruised soul.
I walked away that day, not whole, but with hope. Like the Israelites who left Egypt, they were unable to go in and possess the Promised Land all at once, they had to take it little by little. They would fight a battle, take over a town, and establish their authority there. I had to take my “land of peace” in much the same way.
I’m not sure I would have survived without God’s word. Ministers said to believe God for everything. But could I trust Him? So far, there had been little reason to trust anyone in my life.
I had nothing to lose, so I saturated myself in His teachings. I read the promises and the admonitions over and over. I wallowed in the words of hope in every verse. God loved me and said He had a “hope and future for me.” This was heady stuff.
Like a baby, first I crawled in my new knowledge, then as I got stronger, I walked through God’s word, and finally I was able to run with it.
What I learned is that God’s word is the most powerful force in the universe. There isn’t anything stronger—not nuclear fission, light waves, or the blueprint for life, DNA. Each of those things were spoken into being by the same powerful God of the Bible who had come to live in my heart.
I learned to use words in the same way God does. Instead of verbalizing the fear and sense of despair that had occupied my thoughts, I used scriptures to speak hope and joy to me. The words were a life raft. They energized me and opened up a whole new world of possibility.
All my life I needed someone who was there, and now there was. When I opened God’s word, healing began. He would never leave me or forsake me. I wasn’t alone anymore.
He gave me His Son to take away my sins. He gave me a family of believers to love and care about me, and He took away the guilt and shame. Then he gave me life—His life, and said I could be His forever. I never had to be alone or afraid again.
Bio – Jan Brand is a freelance writer who lives in Arlington, TX. She is the Assistant Director of North Texas Christian Writers and spends her time encouraging others to invest their time in things that will enhance their lives and those around them. When asked why she writes, her reply is, “To change the world, one heart at a time.”