“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7, NKJV)
To look back over one’s past … to consider the ‘growing up’ times of life … there is a real place for reflection and certain value to be gained by seeing how God worked in our lives … protected us so often even from ourselves … and had greater plans for us than we could have imagined!
When as a young teenager I exercised my free will … I circumvented and disobeyed my Mother’s wishes. Asking for permission while already knowing the answer earlier in the week, the plan was hatched.
What I did is between myself, the Lord, and my Mother when she was alive!
But I can tell you the heavyweight of “shame” came down upon me like an avalanche when I got home from doing what I had done. There she sat … in a chair … lamp on … open Bible in her lap … and upon my entrance through the front door … silence!
I greeted her with a more-than-necessary hi … but only silence … deafening silence! It doesn’t take a young person long to recognize the impending indictment when preceded by silence! There is just something about that ‘quietness.’
Perhaps we would rather in the face of those disquieting moments hear a raised voice, words of rebuke, be assigned to ‘shelter in place’(back then it was called being grounded)… or whatever might be said … and then just get past the moment and hope for a better day tomorrow!
But, no, silence! She really didn’t look up for what seemed an eternity! Then … yes … she looked up at me with watery eyes. Obviously she had been crying and I never wanted to see my Mother cry!
Then … she asked me the question I really didn’t want to hear: “Billy, did you have fun?” I already knew she knew what I had done … but, now the moment of truth for me!
I didn’t try and avoid the truth, although I did very briefly consider it … but only for a moment! Avoidance would only compound the problem. My response was, “No, I did not! I thought I would and I did for a little while, but it soon disappeared!”
It was then she really brought the avalanche down the mountain with these words which have been forever branded in my heart … “I am so disappointed in you, but so is God!”
Words will not do justice to how low I felt at that very moment! As the expression goes, ‘I was lower than a snake’s belly’ … and my friends, that is getting down very low!
So … was I sorry I was caught in disobedience? Oh yes … a thousand times yes! Was I sorry I had disappointed my Mother who loved me so much … undefinably yes! Was I sorry I had disappointed the Lord as she gently reminded me of this truth … there are no words … except … “Father, forgive me!”
Now the lessons learned that cool night in the fall of the year were many! Of course, I wondered often, ‘how did she know?’ But the greater lesson was ‘she knew what I had done.’ She knew where I went and what I did. She asked me if I felt bad for my decision or would I want to go again if I could. Silence … followed by more silence.
Then, the gravity of what had happened earlier in the evening, even the preparation preceding the event coupled with her obvious disappointment was simply too much for a young man who deeply loved and appreciated his Mother for so many reasons!
“Mother, can you forgive me for what I’ve done? I am so sorry!” And her response, as you could expect from a strong and faithful child of God who wanted above everything to see her kids grow up wanting to go to Heaven with these words, “Yes, I forgive you, Billy, and if you are truly sorry, so does God who knows your heart!”
Where am I going with this story? To this point specifically: Yes, she forgave me … and she never brought it up again … she never gouged me leveraging it to humble me … she never reminded me again of what I had done! Never!
Would there be other times growing up when I needed to rehearse this scenario again, of course, there were. Regrets of sins past can wear a person down; deplete them of needed spiritual energy to do the Lord’s will in the present!
Shame reinforces any thoughts of unworthiness, personal value, or possessing healthy self-esteem when used in a negative or vindictive way! Sometimes in each of our lives, others are not so kind to us as my Mother was, are they? Not only do they remember, but they also seem to keep reminding us to keep us from forgetting.
Shame … it is a two-edged sword that can turn us around and enable us to become better people … or … it can continue to be used to never let us get back up without the heavy burden of shame in our backpack!
God doesn’t work that way! He is willing to forgive us when we have transgressed His will … when we have decided by our own volition to ‘climb the fence’ and enter the ‘private property belonging to the world!’
God’s forgiveness is always based on His perfect love, grace, mercy, patience, and “understanding of our frame.” (Psalm 103:14)
My Mother taught me and my brothers and sister many wonderful truths in her life on how to live and how to keep your priorities and how to serve the Lord until life here ends!
From my perspective … the events of that one night of conversation with Mother accompanied by tears, prayer, and love taught me one of the strongest of all lessons … Sin happens … Forgiveness comes with genuine repentance and sorrow over sin … and Shame is not the way to teach righteous living! Thank you, Mother! Thank you, Lord!
One of the Apostle Paul’s prayers mentioned in the Book of Ephesians is the one recorded in Ephesians 3:14-21. Consider this portion through your day, “…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height … to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Bill Fairchild, Jr.