"No More Guilt-Induced Doubt"
"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)
The retreat was just a few weeks away and my message outlines were due, but not quite ready. Knowing the stress I felt, my mom invited me to work at her house that Saturday since she’d be gone all day.
Studying and preparing with no kids or interruptions sounded like perfection to me!
Mom said she’d be running errands until 5 p.m. She’d already planned to watch our boys that evening so my husband, JJ, and I could attend a surprise birthday party. He could meet me at Mom’s house, and we’d leave from there.
A quiet house was just what I needed to get into my "zone" of focused study. I was making great progress, and kept thinking how perfect the setting was … until my mom came home … two hours early.
Not only was she early, she was noisy! Displaying her new landscape treasures, she unloaded several cement pavers on the floor in the kitchen, where I was working. Then she walked back out to her car and returned with grocery bags that she plopped down on the kitchen table, next to my stuff.
Normally this would have been fine. It was her house and I was grateful to be there, but not today. I wasn’t done, and I was terrified I’d never get back into my "zone" again.
It didn’t matter though. My time was up, and unfortunately that was only the beginning of my terribly horrible, very bad day.
As I started to put my papers away, I knocked over a water bottle, which spilled onto my laptop! You can imagine the mayhem. Finally after mopping up my mess, and laying hands on my laptop while praying for protection over my files, I decided to get ready early for the party.
From 5 p.m. on, I waited for my husband to arrive. But he didn’t arrive … not at 5 or 5:30. The party was 20 minutes away, and I knew it could ruin the surprise if we were late. But he wasn’t answering his cell phone either, so I didn’t know whether to be irritated or worried.
I decided to borrow my mom’s car and meet JJ there. But, just as I was pulling out of the driveway, he pulled up.
Surprisingly, he didn’t look a bit hurried. And to make matters worse, my 6-year-old son got out of the car first, walked over to me and said, "Daddy told us you would be mad."
That was an understatement! But also confirmation we still needed to drive separately to the party. Because my perfect day was about to turn into the perfect storm!
Confused that I was still driving out of the driveway, JJ waved for me to stop and asked, "Aren’t you going to wait for me?"
"No," I snapped. "Because you’re acting like a [beep]."
Just about that time, my 8-year-old son walked up and said, "Mommy! You just called Daddy a [beep]."
It was a mess. I was a mess. And I was convinced God wondered why He ever thought it was a good idea to have me speak at my church’s retreat.
Guilt crashed over me in waves of accusation and condemnation: I’m not cut out for this. I’m not godly enough. I have no business teaching a message I can’t even live.
We ended up going to the party together, with fake "everything is fine" smiles. But the next morning at church, I went straight to our women’s ministry director to confess what happened and step down from speaking at our retreat.
Her response shocked me: "Renee, if you don’t need this message as much as the women attending, then you are not qualified to teach it. But because you need it as much as we do, you are. You’ve been appointed and you are anointed to do this."
I had never experienced such a demonstration of God’s grace. Her words reminded me of today’s key verse and showed me what it looks like to "approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
I ended up speaking at the retreat, and although I feared some women might judge me, I shared what had happened that weekend. Instead of judgment, they offered acceptance, love and a sense of relief knowing they aren’t the only ones who blow it occasionally.
Isn’t it hard to believe God could use us when we mess up? Yet the Bible is filled with stories of men and women He used greatly — despite their downfalls.
Although guilt from the enemy tempts us to give up on ourselves, grace reminds us God never will. Instead, He can take what feels like destruction and use it for reconstruction through our dependence on Him.
When we confess our wrong thoughts, words and actions and receive God’s forgiveness, we can replace guilt-induced doubt with His grace-infused confidence.
Lord, I come to You today to receive Your mercy and find Your grace to help me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NKJV)