“STOP!!!” my husband yelled.
I was stopped at an intersection with a one way street, my head turned to the left to watch the oncoming traffic. I waited patiently for a break in the traffic so that I could make a right hand turn. When it came, I accelerated…and totally forgot to check first to my right. When Michael yelled, I immediately hit the brakes as my head whipped back to the right. To my total and complete horror, I saw that I had almost hit a group of three pedestrians.
I could easily blame this on the lack of sleep from the previous night. It could have happened because I was unfamiliar with the place I was driving. I could even blame the pedestrians for walking in front of a vehicle without making eye contact with the driver. However, the fact is that this near-accident was totally and completely my fault and my fault only.
The young man who was closest to my car had had to jump out of the way, and he was NOT happy. He yelled at me. I quickly rolled down my window as the group walked on and apologized profusely. The man who had jumped had nothing encouraging to say in return except to encourage me to be a better driver.
I was shaking as I carefully drove the rest of the way to our destination. I began to pray and thank Jesus that nobody had gotten hurt. I asked Him to help the young man and his friends have a good day in spite of our encounter. I also asked Him to forgive me.
Do you know what happened next?
Jesus forgave me.
He had no angry words for me, no “How could you?!” type of reaction. He spoke no condemnation of me for my lapse in basic driving skills. He didn’t sigh loudly in response to having to offer His protection over the situation. He just forgave me, freely and willingly, no questions asked.
Now I don’t blame the young man for his reaction, and who would? He was completely justified in being upset. I would imagine that he was scared for his safety and well-being and that of his companions. I would imagine that he was angry that that had been threatened. That would be a natural, human reaction.
The fact is, though, that Jesus doesn’t react to our mistakes – our sins – the way that we would expect a human to react. Jesus reacts with grace. Grace can be defined as “the free and unmerited favor of God”. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. He never speaks words of condemnation over us; He will lovingly and gently point out a better way to do it the next time. He never holds our sins over our heads. He never demands that we shape up; instead He invites us to learn and to move forward from there.
Friends, if you’re hearing voices of condemnation, you’re listening to the enemy of your soul. Our Heavenly Father is full of grace, compassion and mercy. His voice is one of gentle instruction. His offer is of a second chance. His is the voice that brings life and growth. If you confess your sins to Him, grace will be His response – 100% of the time. Won’t you listen to His voice and receive His grace today?