Unread homework, overdue bills, rocky relationships and a thousand other things. What do you do when condemnation strikes?
And so we met again, condemnation and I, over some matzo bread. He drank black coffee, and I my lemon tea. There were noises all around. I could hear my professor say something about exams, my grandmother reading aloud my bill from the bursar, my sister crying about her boyfriend, my friends mocking me because I don't see R rated movies, my parents announcing their divorce, the computer printing out my GPA, the kids in my church asking me questions that I don't have answers to, children fighting at my job, and my mother telling me what a hypocrite I am. And I sipped my tea.
"So, here we are again, my dear," he said. "You just don't know when to quit, do you?"
I looked into the void of his eyes. "I said I was sorry."
"Tsk, tsk, my dear. I think you should know that sorry doesn't cut it. There is a limit to anyone's capacity to forgive. Think about it. If you were God, would you forgive yourself?"
"I rest my case. You have got to give up this 'born-again' thing. Look at what it's doing to your morale."
Condemnation mockingly passed me the sugar, but I couldn't take it. I just stared into my tea. He took a sip. A pause.
"You know there is one really easy way to get out of your situation, and I know that you've thought about it before, my dear." His eyes sparkled.
"But I'm too afraid to take my own life. I don't want to go straight to hell," I pleaded.
"You are already on your way to hell, my dear. You deserve hell, the Bible even says it. The fact that you can't do it, just proves how utterly worthless you are." He finished his cup triumphantly, and went to pour himself another. As he poured, I was doubled over with my sadness. I felt myself sinking. I started to panic, and cry out - but condemnation laughed and toasted his cup in my direction.
A whisper, I distinctly heard a whisper.
"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Condemnation sat straight up, and his bottom lip began to quiver.
"Did you say that?" he asked.
Before I could answer, the whisperer said, "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
"Oh Lord," I choked out. "I am a wretch in your sight!! I have wronged you again and again. Oh father, please do not turn away the cry of your child. I purpose myself to turn from my sinful ways. Please help me to obey you and find peace."
"Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin."
"I do not deserve any sins forgotten Lord."
"But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him."
"None beloved." He was speaking to me much louder now, but still gently.
"But I am still no good for you Lord. I have still sinned and I might mess up again."
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
I looked over to where Condemnation had been sitting and he was no longer in sight. I was standing up. I hadn't even realized it! I felt so free, so at peace. I turned around, and saw my savior. He looked at me with loving, gentle eyes.
"Beloved, why did you invite Condemnation to sit with you? Don't you trust that my promises are eternal? I always keep my word beloved. Always. Come."
And my Jesus gave me the best hug that I have ever had in my lifetime. He just knows how to hug exactly how you need to be hugged. Then he told me that by focusing on my sin and circumstance, I had invited condemnation in. Once he was in-he would do great damage. But then he showed me the pearl of my life that he kept safely in his right breast pocket, and offered me some wonderful honey for my lemon tea. We talked for hours and the noise surrounding me totally faded away.
"But He was pierced for our transgression, He was wounded for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6)."
Copyright 2001 Mercy A. Ruiz. All rights reserved.