This season brings in a flurry of emotions, year after year. For some,
its joyful, for some it is sad, and for most it is a conflicting mix
of both.

There are so many things I am tempted to write about. How much we miss
family in the Northwest, how we ‘spilled the beans’ about the fat guy
in a red suit today, or maybe about Gram’s fantastic Rhubarb Ginger
Jam. I’ll focus on what seems to be recurring this week though; the
difference between guilt and repentance.

Anyone that knows Tyler knows he seems to carry the weight of the
world at times. Lots of people theorized this is due to circumstance,
but I would propose it is because God has given him the gift of
conviction. I say gift, realizing there are some gifts that can seem
to be a curse unless they are looked at from just the right angle.

Tyler has found himself on a roller coaster at school. In trouble one
day, and praised for stellar performance and behavior the next week.
He decides he very much dislikes getting in trouble. His trouble
lately has been a fair mix of “What were you thinking?!?” moments, and
“I swear I didn’t do it, I was just with the boys that did it”
situations. When Tyler is wrong, he knows it, and usually doesn’t
hide it. In fact, he seems to welcome getting caught as though he is
looking for absolution.

I find myself comparing my ‘father child relationship’ with my kids to
that of my heavenly father. I hope we’ve all experienced that rotten
feeling when you know your wrong, and it needs to be right. If you
haven’t, then you don’t have a sense of conviction, and psychologists
would call you a ‘sociopath’. So, yes, its a gift.

Now, the question is what do we do with this feeling? What does our
Father want for us to do with this very natural reaction?

Have you ever seen a parent ‘guilt trip their child? I imagine so.
“Johnny, it makes mommy sad when you hit your sister.” I think
‘mommy’ may be disturbed by Johnny’s lack of love and care for his
sister, and hopes his caring about mommy may guilt him into action.
While I don’t agree with this method (the least of reasons is the
child will use it on you before long) I see what mommy is after. A
change in behavior. Repentance is when conviction leads you to a truly
honest intent to not repeat your sin. Fortunately, this doesn’t HAVE
to be preempted by guilt. Naturally, it often is.

I believe that God does not desire for his children to live with guilt
or shame (why else would he give us a savior?!?), but desires for us
to change our behavior (repent) so we do not harm ourselves. Harm can
be physical, or less direct; such as missing out on something good.
Like recess.

The challenge I’m faced with is teaching Ty that he doesn’t need to be
saddled with guilt, but motivated to make his life better by
benefiting from the protection, experience, and wisdom of those with
authority over him (chiefly, his momma and me.). Lucky for me we have
a perfect example.

So many think Christianity is about ‘rules’, and it may be, but what
they don’t understand is our God only wants to protect us. He doesn’t
want anyone to be ‘punished’ for their wrongs (although we are told
that He will ‘curse those who curse’ the Jews. Don’t mess with Papa
Bear. Or maybe Abba Bear.) He is all about taking care of you, but
just like Ty, you won’t be if you insist on playing with the boys who
throw rocks, and insist on not obeying his teacher. I’m confident that
Ty will obey, he’s gifted with conviction. I’m confident that we will
benefit greatly from his obedience.

I hope you will benefit from your obedience as well. And I hope we all
learn to accept His gift by shedding our guilt and making that truly
honest commitment to obey.

Remember to thank Him who has given you the gift of being free of
guilt this season, by honoring his gift, and not feeling guilty.

God is good all the time.