May 23, 2023
The Answer for Guilt
September 6, 2022 | Russ Moe
My tears mingled with the frosty morning dew soaking through my jeans as I knelt beside my son’s week-old grave that frigid March morning. Uncontrollable weeping had made it impossible for me to remain upright. Neither could I lift my head from my hunched-over position on all fours as I stared down at the icy grass. Rivers of tears had filled the previous ten days since the horrific auto accident that killed my precious boy. The sense of loss had wrung out of me a grief I didn’t know was possible. But this day I was crying for a different reason.
I was mourning because of my guilt.
I felt my insides dissolving into the tears pouring out my eyes as I contemplated never again being able to explain, or confess, or try and heal our estranged relationship. I knew it had pained his young life for the past several years since I divorced his mother. My conscience filled with haunting torments about my faults like rats infesting a dark basement.
He was gone forever, and that hopelessness mocked the naïve contention I held — that someday we’d be restored to the joy of a functional father/son relationship. I had suspended trying to heal the breach, presumptuously thinking that time heals all wounds.
Just give it time, I thought. He’ll grow up and come around eventually.
Now, that would never happen. Instead, things would forever remain frozen in the same broken condition as when he left this world. He was hurt, hurt by his trusted dad, and I would forever be accountable for harming “one of these little ones” as Jesus warned in Luke 17:2. I was overcome by the weight of a drowning millstone of guilt.
Guilt was terrorizing me. As if holding a gun to my head, it forcibly made me focus on the fact that I owed! At the same time guilt wouldn’t allow me to forget, I could never pay it. The mental vice was psychotic. I was guilt’s hostage; the ransom was impossible. I lost all my strength under the whipping of irreversible condemnation. I’m in hell, I thought. Permanent hopelessness is what hell is. I felt what Judas probably felt when death became his only way out.
I collapsed with my face in the wet ground. My weeping turned to heaves of wailing. I cried out loud in a breaking voice, “Oh God, I hurt him!”
At that moment something profound occurred. I haven’t been the same since. Guilt left me. I can’t explain it any better than that. The sense of owing was gone, totally, suddenly. Somehow, I knew I would not have to pay for what I did. I now owed nothing, and my spirit told me so by the flood of peace that replaced the sickening heaviness that was there an instant before. Liberation from the tangible torment was perceivable immediately. God had just purged a poison from my system.
Weeping subsided. Understanding flooded in along with 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It explained what just happened. It was a subjective experience, but one clearly defined by God’s own words.
Rising to my feet, I walked away from my son’s grave sensing something had changed. I was different and I knew it. Things even looked different.
I got into my car to leave, and as I started it a CD automatically began playing. It was the one I had purchased the day I received the news of my son’s death. The song was Sheila Walsh’s “Throne of Grace.” It perfectly articulated what I had just experienced. I heard God speaking to me.
“I know you, I know you completely
And on your darkest journey I have been with you
All the weight of guilt and shame
You carry on your shoulder
It’s time to hand it over and let it go, just let it go.
Come to the throne of grace, don’t be afraid
I won’t turn you away.
Just let me into your heart
And my love will wash your tears away.”*
Simply stated, the answer for guilt is, God takes it away.
Once He does, one more thing remains for us to do: forgive ourselves.
“Just let it go.”
*“Throne of Grace.” YouTube, YouTube, 23 June 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=533Su74doDU.