It can take us years to learn the difference between human reaction to our failures and errors and God’s reaction to them. When we mess things up, people often turn on us, perhaps scowling, maybe giving us the silent treatment to show their disapproval. We feel ashamed and low down, and we want to either retaliate in anger or slink away down the nearest, darkest alley. Unfortunately, such negative conditioning leads us to expect the same reaction from the Lord when we disappoint Him.
I felt just like that one day when I knew I had treated another unkindly, and I had broken God’s Golden Rule. When I tried to pray, it seemed His face was dark with brooding. He seemed unapproachable. Like Adam and Eve, I wanted to cover my sin with “fig leaves” and run for cover in the deep woods. Thank God, however, I persisted in prayer.
“To whom shall I go, Lord?” I asked. “You alone have the words of everlasting life.”
I refused to leave my “prayer closet” until I had heard His voice in the matter. “Rebuke me; fuss me; do whatever it takes,” I pleaded as I opened to the current entry in a daily devotional. It was right on target! The account for that day was about an unusual sign the writer had seen in a gift shop filled with fragile objects. The sign read, “If you break something, tell me so I can forgive you.”
I kept repeating the words, “If you break something, tell me so I can forgive you,” and gentle waves of relief washed over my blistering conscience. The Lord didn’t want to reprimand me or shame me. He wanted to forgive me. All He required was that I confess my wrongdoing, be honest with Him and compassionate toward those I’d hurt, and He would cast the transgression in the farthest, deepest sea—forgiven and forgotten.
Sometimes, I still grapple with man’s response to wrongdoing as opposed God’s response. Sometimes I still want to take the fig leaf approach, but God is always faithful to remind me that His ways are higher and more merciful. As the book of John attests, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). When I break God’ law, I want to flee, but He wants to set me free. What a tender, healing God we have.


Bonnie T.  Barry

Sunset, United States

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