Don’t you just hate that feeling of guilt that seems to haunt you after a bad decision was made? Did you know that God isn’t the one holding that bad decision over your head? The enemy of our souls wants us to live a life of failure and guilt but it’s up to us; it’s our choice to hold onto our guilt or let it go.
Here’s an excerpt from my book Path of the Blessing where Sarah and Abraham were visited by angels appearing as men with an unbelievable message. It’s a great example of God’s character. (This account is found in Genesis 18)
While the "men" were eating they asked where Sarah was. Sarah was in the tent and was standing at the entrance to the tent behind the Lord. She was overhearing their conversation. She heard the Lord speak of the promised blessing of a son. In fact she heard him say that about this time next year she will have a son. Now the timeline of when the promised blessing of fertility, a son, was becoming more specific. Instead of a broad promise of Sarah birthing a son someday, now the Lord was revealing even more detail, more of what the path of blessing would look like.
When Sarah heard what the Lord said, she laughed to herself (just like her husband had earlier!) and thought to herself, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?" -Basically saying, Ok, now that I am old, now is the time you have picked for me?! Yah, right, like that's going to happen.
The Lord, hearing this (notice she had said these thoughts in her head) said, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." I absolutely love how the Lord responds to Sarah. He doesn't get impatient with her because of her unbelief. He doesn't just get up and say, "forget it! This woman doesn't have enough faith to believe for this, she doesn't deserve it." He also doesn't become offended that she is laughing, almost mocking at what he is saying. The Lord simply says, "Believe it, because you are certainly going to have a son, in fact at the appointed time next year it will happen. …So….why are you laughing?"
Appointed time, did you catch that? The Lord had an appointed time for this promise to manifest. The Lord had promised years ago that they would be blessed with fertility through the manifestation of a son. It wasn't by chance when it would happen. It wasn't just a random pregnancy that if Abraham and Sarah would just try hard enough it would happen. No, it wasn't anything they could make happen. It would only happen by God's specific, appointed time.
They could not start on their path of blessing by their own doing. They had to wait for the Lord to reveal when and where in life that they would find the start of that path. They had already tried to start on that path 13 years earlier with Ishmael. Only to realize, it was the wrong path, a path they wanted to go down, but was not the true path of the promised blessing that God had been speaking of. If only they had been patient to wait for the appointed time. Now, with some course correction, they were back on the right path, and ready to step onto the path of blessing.
Sarah makes me laugh a little at her response to the Lord. She lied and said, "I did not laugh." But he (God) said, "Yes, you did laugh.” Funny that she would try to cover her tracks so to speak and say she didn't laugh. Thinking that she could trick God. Didn't she notice that he had also heard her thoughts?! -and yet she lied about laughing.
Maybe she was hoping that if she ignored the fact that the Lord had heard her thoughts, then maybe he didn't really hear her laugh. I think she was embarrassed. I hate to say it, but there have been times in my life that I have said something out loud, realizing I shouldn't have said it, and then hoping that no one really heard or paid attention to what I had said. I've even had times, just like Sarah, where I've even gone as far as trying to cover up what I've said by denying it.
But what's great here is that God has the final word. He simply says, "Yes, you did laugh" as if to say, "yes, you did it, but let's drop it." He doesn't say to Sarah, "Yes, you did laugh and now you are lying about it." He doesn't condemn her; he just confronts her and then drops it. Allowing her to mull it over in her own mind what she had said.
I love that about the Lord. When it's hard to believe that we are about to step onto a specific path of blessing, and we doubt that it could happen after waiting for so long, we laugh about the possibility and in the process allow sin to come in. God says, "Admit your sin, your unbelief and move on because nothing can stop what I've appointed will happen." Then he drops the matter as if the whole conversation of doubt and sin never happened. That's called grace.
What area of your life has a guilt hold on you, maybe it’s time to repent and move on. Or maybe you’ve repented long ago, but the guilt of your sin is still present. Let God’s grace wash over you, believe me, that once you repent, God has totally dropped the matter. He did it for Sarah, he will do it for you.