Reflections: Disobedience, guilt and mercy
Aaron had been hiking all day when the accident occurred. Under ideal conditions he could have made it home that day, but now that he was injured, he would have to rest when it got dark. He slowly limped down hills, across streams and through muddy trails toward home. As he walked he pondered his choices of the previous day and while he became sicker in body he also became more discouraged in heart. When he finally arrived home he threw himself onto his bed, feverish and emotionally spent.
His father, Caleb heard him and ran to his room. As he appeared Aaron blurted out, “I hoped I wouldn’t have to tell you Dad but….”
“What happened,” Caleb asked gently, hurrying toward the bed.
“While I was hiking,” Aaron said, “I came upon that old cottage. I know you told me to stay away but I didn’t think it would hurt to rummage around a little. As I climbed through the ruins I stepped on a bunch of rusty nails sticking out of a board. I just couldn’t clean the wound myself. I’m sorry.” His voice trailed off.
Caleb gently removed Aaron’s shoe and inspected the angry, festering wound. “It looks very painful,” whispered Caleb compassionately.
“I know this happened because I went where I shouldn’t have. Will you forgive me?” Aaron pleaded.
“I’m always ready to forgive.” Caleb answered softly. “Talk to me Aaron.”
“I don’t know what to say; I feel so guilty.” said Aaron.
“I know,” said Caleb.
“I don’t deserve your forgiveness,” whispered Aaron.
“That’s true,” admitted Caleb, “but you know that I’ve promised complete forgiveness because I love you. You only need to ask.”
While Aaron and Caleb talked, Caleb tenderly, yet persistently cleansed Aaron’s wound and cut away the infection that had been overtaking his foot and creeping into his entire being. When Aaron cried out with pain, Caleb whispered words of comfort into his heart, soul and mind. After the wound was cleansed and medication given, Caleb gently bathed Aaron’s feverish body.
Eventually, Aaron rose from the bed of pain and guilt that his disobedience had created. After that, he walked more closely with his father Caleb in order to continue to learn about obedience.
How often do we disobey and find ourselves suffering from the natural consequences of those choices? Obedience is a constant struggle since, even as a Christian, our sinful nature is not killed nor rendered helpless. Therefore, our obedience must not be passive but active. God gives us tools with which to fight our sinful nature. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground,” (Ephesians 6:13). Read further in this chapter to learn more about using these tools.
Also, we must never try to conceal our sin, but openly confess it to God since he knows it already anyway. Only then will God extend his full mercy, forgiveness and healing to us. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy,” (Proverbs 28:13).
Finally, if there is pain that is not the result of disobedience but instead the result of hurtful or difficult circumstances, be assured that God’s tender hand is ready to bring healing in those times as well. He is just a whisper away.
Helen McCormack and her husband David are members of Wycliffe Bible Translators and serve from their home in Minot.