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Guilt and the way out

How can a young man keep his way pure?
   By living according to Your word.
I seek You with all my heart;
   do not let me stray from Your commands.
I have hidden Your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against You.
Praise be to You, O Lord;
   teach me Your decrees.

—Psalm 119:9-12


It's funny: that's probably not a passage I'd have chosen to read this morning, on my own, but God has a way of putting me in places I'd be unlikely to choose myself. So there it is, and here I am. Sometimes I'm confused, frustrated, and frightened (among other emotions) by where He places me. Yet there is a constant feeling I get in the places I choose myself, apart from Him: guilt. I'm not talking about the neurotic, self-imposed, unhealthy guilt that most of us struggle with to some degree; I'm talking about the real deal, the painful, soul-crushing kind, the guilt that comes of knowing what I've chosen and ultimately, how I've sinned against Him alone, regardless of how good my other feelings may have been or how solid my rationales for doing so. The kind of guilt that makes me want to vomit.

It's a loss, every time, yet I choose my own way over and over. Do I do so because I know I am secure, that Christ is already crucified and payment has been made in full, that I can always come back, and that it if I run after what I want and then come back, I somehow get more than what He would give me? Do I think I've fooled Him? Do I think He hates me, that He wants to keep things from me that I should be able to have? Probably all of the above, and deeper, darker things thrown in for good measure. Perhaps there's no single, simple equation for my wickedness and distrust of Him, even if some of the variables are present again and again.

The Psalmist tells me the way to be pure is simpler than the myriad of ways for me to stray. Do I believe it? I want to. I claim to. What will it take to walk it out? Simple things, clear choices. There's really no confusion here, just fear. Fear of abandoning my own way. Fear of abandoning myself to His dangerous arms.

Is He good? Does He love me? Will I trust Him?

With my lips I recount
   all the laws that come from Your mouth.
I rejoice in following Your statutes
   as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on Your precepts
   and consider Your ways.
I delight in Your decrees;
   I will not neglect Your word.

—Psalm 119:13-16

Comments

Great scripture! You aren't alone. I struggle similarly. And obviously the author of this psalm does too. If I had a nickel for every time I've said let me try this my way, God, well, let's just say I'd own all the shoes my heart desires. Oh - wait - is that coveting? Sigh.
Great devotion. It sounds like a Brennan Manning overdose! I really appreciate these verses and your thoughts. He is ruthless in His pursuit of you. He will cut away everything that binds you. And it will hurt- it is "both agony and absolute release". A double edged sword cuts to the core of your heart. He rises to show you compassion.