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Derail Guilt

My family and I returned home from vacation a few weeks ago. When we pulled up onto the street and parked in front of the house, I immediately noticed that the railing for my steps in front of my house was gone. The kids in the neighborhood were outside playing and when they saw us pull up, they ran inside their house. It doesn’t take a genius to spot that level of guilt. One of the parents even called there child inside, which to me was out of fear of confrontation, but maybe I’m drawing conclusions. I’m really not that hard to get along with, so I didn’t understand the level of guilt. My railing wasn’t the sturdiest anyway because I’ve backed into it a time or two with my vehicle. I suspected that the kids decided to play on it while we were gone and with the weakness of the railing, it didn’t take much for it to break. I was more aggravated about the fact that no one wanted to own up to the incident than anything else.

My second year of college, my family bought me a car. I went away to college and the first year I had to rely on other people to get me around town or I had to wait for my family to come get me on long weekends. So, the summer before my second year of school, my Mom and Dad bought me a red Dodge Shadow. My parents came down with me the week before school started to help get me settled in and make sure all was well with everything. I drove down with my Mom in the car and my Dad came in his vehicle. The day before they left to go back home, they said their goodbyes to me and headed to their hotel. I was a little nervous about the start of the new year and decided to go to Wal-Mart to kill some time and get some odds and ends. I went into the parking lot and pulled into a spot, when I pulled in, I misjudged the distance and scraped a van with my front bumper. No one was around, my heart was in my throat and I didn’t know what to do. My gut told me to leave, but I had to check and see the damage. I looked and couldn’t tell anything. But, on looking again I saw a decent size mark. I nervously waited in the parking lot for whoever the owner was to come out so I could tell them what happened. It was hot, I was nervous, I was battling whether to just go and pretend it didn’t happen, when finally after about twenty minutes a family started walking to the van. I approached the father and told him what happened. He looked at the damage and he thanked me for letting him know. We exchanged insurance information and I got his phone number. This was before cell phones were in everyone’s possession. I left and headed back to the dorm, dreading the call to my parents. When I got in the dorm, I went to the payphone, looked up the hotel number of where they were staying and called and told them what happened. They weren’t happy, of course, because this was added expense that they weren’t expecting. They contacted the other driver and paid for the damage out of pocket instead of putting it on the insurance. The other driver was kind and complimented that it was honorable that I waited around for them.

The thing is, the guilt would’ve drove me crazy if I drove off and pretended it didn’t happen. I have my parents to thank for that. They raised me to be upfront whenever I broke something, to be honest in all situations.

Back to the railing, a few days after we got home the little girl across the street started talking to me because I was taking the trash to the curb. After a bit of dialog, she pointed at the broken railing. I nodded and said “Yeah, you know what happened, don’t you?” She nodded back and then pointed to the house beside me. I nodded and said, “The railing wasn’t very sturdy. I’m guessing that it looked like a good place to slide down or swing on. Then when someone played on it, it came down. She said, “Yea, and he hurt his hand.” “That happens,” I said back.

A day or two after the little girl told me, the little boy who had done it waved at me with a bandaged up hand. He walked toward me and I said, “Did you do that on my railing?” He nodded and his sister quickly said, “No, you did it on the slip and slide.” He shot her a look and then I said, “I know what happened. I’m glad you aren’t hurt worse.”

The kids didn’t want to hold on to that guilt either. They were afraid of how I would react. They didn’t want to own up to it, but they couldn’t pretend it didn’t happen either. Confession is freeing, whereas keeping that guilt inside will eat you alive or numb you.

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone – deep, non-hypocritical integrity.” ~ Chuck Swindoll

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I Don’t Know Any Better

notresspassing

Today, I’ve been reflecting on pride and how each of us can easily get entangled in it.  I dove into Proverbs 16 and first went to verse 18-19, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”  After I read those verses, I decided to read the whole chapter.  It’s full of wisdom, of course, but how often do I actually follow instruction and allow for God to lead?  The chapter reminds me that my plans aren’t Gods plans.  I think I know best and actually end up ruining things or missing the mark.  I know that God knows best, but that doesn’t mean that I always trust Him.  I am a scheduler, I have my day planned out in my head, what I’m going to do first and the order I’m going to do things in.  I don’t know why I won’t stop being that way because my plans get wrecked most of the time.  I kick, scream, cuss, and resist when things don’t go my way.  God probably looks at me and just shakes His head and laughs.  God’s plans are greater than mine, instead of throwing a fit; I need to follow the current of change.  There’s a reason He’s switched my itinerary around.   He may be protecting me against something; he may be leading me in the path of someone I wouldn’t have met if I kept my schedule, or he may be trying to teach me something.

Any way you look at it, simply put, I don’t know any better than God.  In Proverbs 16, I’m reminded that God does have a plan for me and he wants me to seek him for instruction and guidance.  He wants me to trust and follow him, even when it goes against the grain of what I want.  If I think I know better than God, that’s pride.  That’s saying, “God, you don’t know what you’re talking about, let me handle this.” When I follow my own path, I get in trouble and I really screw things up.  If I’m off the path, I’m walking into unprotected areas; it’s like climbing the fence when the warning sign is visible.  It clearly says to keep out, but if I decide to not listen, I have to be prepared to face the consequences.

When I was a kid, if I saw a “No Trespassing” sign, I completely ignored it.  It tempted me to go over the boundaries.   I wanted to push my limits and see what I was supposed to stay away from.   I climbed fences with barbed wire.  I propped up electric fence lines to slide myself under the lowest line, just to brag that I crossed over.  I jumped over the cow fence to get the bulls to chase me.  I loved danger, but it almost got me in big trouble a lot of times.  One time, I remember an older man came out with a shotgun and started shooting in mine and my cousin’s direction.  We took off running and hid in some high grass until he left.  A lot of the times I stepped in cow manure running from the bulls, I’d have to try and clean it off my shoes before I got home because mom got rather upset when I messed up my clothes.  I did some pretty stupid things just to get a thrill.  That’s how sin is; it entices you to just try something you are clearly told not to do.  The first sin recorded was when Eve didn’t listen to God’s instruction and ate from the tree of knowledge anyway.  She wanted to know what it was like and then we all know what happened from there.  She decided to detour from God’s path and ended up regretting her decision.  I’ve had too many moments like that in my life, if we are all honest, everyone has.  Satan’s greatest weapon is pride which leads to temptation, that savory perfume that pulls us toward failure.  How do we correct that?  We admit that we were wrong and we go back in the right direction and follow God’s path.  It hurts to admit failure, but it hurts worse to continue in it, hide it and get trapped by our stupid pride.  When we admit our mistakes, we are humbling ourselves and recognizing that we don’t know better than God.  Humility is the sweet fragrance from our Heavenly Father, that enables us to do an about face and rebuild our relationship with Him.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Life, Spiritual Reflections

 

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