Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Do you have a "trash basket"?

Periodically my mom sends me devotional things that she thinks I might get something out of... This one was written by Gwen Smith... I have cut out some parts to make it shorter, but I hope if you struggle with letting go of any guilt and shame in your life that this offers you similar freeing truths that I needed to embrace, yet again, today!

A four-year-old girl was overheard reciting the Lord's Prayer, "and forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who pass trash against us." When I first heard that story, I smiled. Then I thought of a conversation I recently had with a girlfriend.

She is a Christian friend. But though she has "emptied her trash basket" of sin before the Lord in sincere repentance, she has not emptied the trash basket of self-condemnation. Not completely. She won't allow it. She struggles deeply to let go of mistakes she made in her past. She holds the trash basket lid on tightly. To be free of that waste doesn't seem fair in her mind.

She is haunted by shame. Haunted by sins that are no longer remembered by God. Haunted by sins that have been cast as far as the east is from the west.

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him." (Psalm 103:11-13)

These memories don't live in her past. They live in her now.

Do you see that our holy Lord delights to show us mercy? He does not condemn us as we deserve. Time and time again, Scripture reveals merciful pictures of forgiveness. The woman in John 8 was guilty when she was brought to face Jesus, but as she left His presence, her guilt was forgiven. Her trash basket was empty. When we turn to face Jesus with repentant hearts, our guilt is forgiven as well.

Toss your trash!

My friend carried around a trash basket filled with junk she threw in herself. Sure, it was accompanied by trash from other people too, but the lingering condemnation came from memories of decisions she had made, things she had done, places she had been, and brokenness she has experienced because of her own choices. In her heart, she accepts the forgiveness of Jesus, but she can't bear to forgive herself. So many women won't forgive themselves.

I've been that woman.

I know that woman.

I know that self-loathing. I've lived it. I'm not going to sit here and try to tell you that forgiving yourself is easy. It's hard--and, in a lot of ways, it should be! But I can testify that it wasn't until I prayerfully allowed the stubborn, strong, and unconditional love of Jesus to pry my fingers off the lid of my trash basket and empty the condemning contents, that I experienced true freedom and complete forgiveness.

Is there something for which you have not been able to forgive yourself?

My friend, we need to stop beating ourselves up for sins of our past. We need to stop allowing guilt and shame to chain us to unproductive living. Jesus humbled Himself by becoming human, endured an excruciating death, and then defied the grave in His resurrection so that we could be restored to a place of complete healing. Complete healing.

Second Corinthians 5:21 states that "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." If you are in Christ, the Bible says that your guilt was paid for on the cross of Calvary. Jesus carried the sins of the world on His shoulders so that you would not have to carry them on yours.

If you are holding on to unconfessed sin, the time has come for you to release your grip. God's Word promises that, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Accept His forgiveness.

None of us is perfect, just perfectly forgiven. Take your hand off the lid and allow the Lord to empty your trash basket of every condemning voice, once and for all. Embrace the freedom that Jesus intends for you to live in.

Let's Pray
Holy Father, Your mercy defies logic in my mind. I don't deserve it, and I just don't understand how You could possibly forgive me for all that I have done. Please take my trash basket and empty it. Forgive me today and help me to forgive myself, and others, so I can live freely in Your amazing grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

If you got this far I hope these words brought you comfort today.

1 comment:

Kim Smith said...

Thanks for sharing this, Traci. The line that sticks with me the most is, "These memories don't live in her past. They live in her now." I'm not sure why it's so hard to forgive ourselves for past sins and just accept that we are forgiven. It's funny how things from the past creep up into the present, but it's comforting to know that God wants to carry our burdens... we just need to let Him!