One night during spring break, at a very wee hour of the morning, I sat in the passenger’s seat of my boyfriend’s car with my mascara and tears seeping into the sleeve of his shirt. The weight of my sin and my emotional impurity were burdening my heart, I felt like the most rotten girlfriend in the world. Rotten for looking at pornography in the past, and for thinking impure thoughts, and for objectifying my boyfriend in a way that is not honoring to the Lord nor fair to him. As I leaned on his shoulder and held his hand tightly, feeling like I didn’t deserve him nor the love of God, he prayed for us, then I prayed too. I felt a little angry when his prayer was so calm and so at peace with God. Come on, I thought. You have a past too. Don’t you feel guilty? Don’t you feel convicted by all this junk? When I prayed after him, my insides caved in as I was wrecked with the guilt… not just of my sin, but the guilt of making the Lord forgive me again. I came before his throne, head hung, saying, “We’re back. You’ll never guess what I did wrong this time.”
But then, he looked me in the eyes and he reminded me of something: The Lord asks for repentance. I have confessed my sin to the one against whom I have sinned (my boyfriend) and sought out his forgiveness, and I have confessed to the Lord with a contrite heart. And true repentance implies turning away from the sin and walking the opposite direction, so I have resolved to do that too. So why, he asked me, did I still feel the huge weight of my sins? God had already forgiven me for my past. And now, it is as far from his mind as the east is from the west. I am FREE from it!! But I was still burdened by the weight of it. Why bother being concerned, my boyfriend wondered, if God’s no longer concerned with it?
At this point, I realized something: God’s ridiculous, scandalous forgiveness is so thoroughly, totally redeeming that he no longer even remembers my sins. Not that he forgets, but he doesn’t look at me with those sins tainting His view of me. When the Lord looks at me, I am covered in the blood of Christ. God is love, and love keeps no record of wrongs. Oh, what love!
Now, to ask the same question as Paul in Romans 6, does this beautiful truth grant me the freedom to continue sinning so that grace may abound? By no means! says Paul. (What he means is, “Hellz no, home skillet.” or “No way, Jose.” or maybe even, “Negative, ghost rider.”) Because if we truly understand the magnitude of this weight of sin that has been entirely erased from our record, we dare not slap our Redeemer in the face with deliberate defiance. And as we understand the heart of our Father more closely, those desires for things which He does not desire slowly fade into the background. Granted, they can be aggravated by triggers that we will never be able to avoid, but as true children of God, our lives are transformed – turned 180 degrees so that we want what He wants.
And on top of that, I am coming to understand that the Lord wants more from me than just the occasional apology. In the same sense as my earthly father – who is a far-from-perfect but still-very-effective representation of the love of my Heavenly Father – wants to take me out to breakfast and go to a baseball game with me, and not just punish me when I disobey, my Heavenly Father desires an intimate relationship with the daughter that He created in His image – not just a guilt-riddled, disobedient child and her disciplinarian father.
Admittedly, I have much to learn – most of the time, I learn it in the most difficult way available. But each step I take toward becoming more like Christ allows me to see deeper into His heart and the magnificent, reckless, illogical way in which we are loved by the Father. Again I say… Oh, what love.