I got Bella when I lived in California. I would call her my souvenir when I moved home to Connecticut. I ultimately got her because I was lonely out there. She was a great dog. She was loyal and loving to those she loved. She was my little buddy, and was always attached to my hip, even sleeping in bed with me. My old boss would joke what happens if you fall in love with someone who hates dogs and doesn’t want them sleeping in bed. I always said that the dog came first.
Like any dog, she did things that were not good. These things usually happened while she was at my moms. I remember one time we had finished a nice steak dinner and had gone into the living room to relax without cleaning the table first, and we see this little shadow on the wall a lot higher than it should have been. Sure enough she had gotten on the table to eat the left over steak. Then there was that time when she ate one of the couch cushions. Whoops!
Before we get to where I am going here, let’s go back a bit. Let’s go back to my teens. Although it was when I was in high school that my faith really started to grow, when I went to college I walked away from the life I had lived following God, and quickly fell into the party scene. Looking back, I had made a lot of decisions that I am still not proud of, but I also feel like I am reflecting on someone else’s life. After glimpse after glimpse of God revealing himself to me and leading me back to him I finally decided to walk through the church doors for myself December of 2008. During a church service shortly after day, I heard a message on the Fruit of the Spirit. I don’t remember what was said during the message, but I remember that the weight of my sins hit me like a mack truck. I felt so guilty for how I had lived my life, and for not caring about the God I had loved and followed. I ran out of church that night sobbing. I somehow ended up crying to my friend Kristina in her car, and sharing this weight I was feeling. We talked about God’s forgiveness, and how I had asked God for forgiveness for how I had lived my life but for some reason I didn’t exactly feel forgiven. After cryfest, (this is where we get back to Bella) I went to pick up Bella from my moms. She had done something really bad again, and my mom was not happy. Not happy at all. When hearing what Bella had done, I responded by saying but you still forgive her because you love her. Bam. Forgiveness. Like a mack truck hitting me again. Because, that is the forgiveness God offers us through Jesus. Forgiveness out of love.
I bet some of you can relate. You still have feelings of guilt even though you have asked for forgiveness, and even though you are familiar with His word that says “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), and that He blots outs our transgressions and remembers our sins no more (Isaiah 43:25).
Beautiful one, do you understand the weight of these truths? That means He loves us too much to let us carry the weight of the after effects of sin. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but our sins didn’t confine Him to the grave! He still rose again in new life because that is the depth of His love for you. He doesn’t want to live without you. He has new life for you free from the after effects of sin.
I said earlier in the post, that when I think back on my old life I feel like I am thinking of a different person. That is the difference that the love of Jesus makes. He makes all things new! Recently I read about a wedding tradition in Burundi, Africa. In American culture, when you get married the bride chooses her wedding gown and doesn’t let the groom see her in it until she is walking down the aisle. However in Burundi it is tradition that the groom picks out the wedding dress, and it is unseen to the bride until she puts it on. The groom will also give her a brand new wardrobe, and the bride gives all of her old clothes to other people. She is now clothed by her husband with nothing remaining of her life before being married. I think I cringed inside a bit reading that the brides don’t see their weddings gowns, until they are about to put them on, but in a way that tradition is so beautiful, and also a reflection of the difference that the love of Jesus makes. He makes all things new! This is such a reflection of our new lives in Christ, however just like the wedding dress, new life is unseen until the first step of faith is taken and you fall into the arms of Jesus, and His perfect love.
If you are like I was and still feeling some guilt even after you have asked forgiveness, ask God to reveal to you how He sees you. Beautiful. Loved. Forgiven. And remember these truths- “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), and that He blots outs our transgressions and remembers our sins no more (Isaiah 43:25). Walk in that freedom!