Psalm 103:8-12 “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. “

East to West

Recently, Casting Crowns came out with a song called “East to West”. It has such a powerful message about God’s forgiveness.

One of the things that’s common to man is that we’ve all had the need to be forgiven. Some of us have done things that feel like it requires “more” forgiveness. Yet, in God’s eye, sin is sin. God is a perfect and holy God and CAN NOT be in the presence of anything that is not holy. So when we sin- whether it’s stealing a pack of gum from a friend or store, or if it’s lying to someone, or if it’s killing someone, that sin separates us from our God.

The good news is that Jesus came to earth. He was fully man, living here on earth. Yet he did something that no other man has done or can do. He lived a perfect life, without sin. He did that because he was also God in the flesh. And then he sacrificed his life on the cross, and bore the weight of all of the sins of the world. He bore the past sins, and all the sins forever to come. He took them on, so that he could die and through his death and resurrection, we could have access to a perfect God. Jesus bore our shame.

God is love. God is forgiveness. And what a victory to know that when we approach the throne of God and realize our sin and repent, our sin is as far as the East is from the West.

This personally is a concept that I really struggled with. I felt like the sins I committed (you can read about that in my blog “Inwardly Knit” just below this one) were too big to be forgiven. I knew in my head that the Bible said that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:9) But in my heart, I kept remembering what I had done, and feeling guilty and full of shame all over again. It’s like I was calling God a liar in my heart, because I couldn’t believe that He had taken my sins and forgiven them. And they were no more.

So began my struggle with guilt and shame. I really feel like it’s a trick of Satan. The Bible says in John 10:10 that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Yet in the same verse, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” My life was not full. Walking around feeling like a phony. Like if anyone ever found out your secret, you’d be totally discredited.

Amazingly, I lived like this for over 10 years. Hoping no one would ever find out my secret. But that is when my local crisis pregnancy center came in and changed my life. I went to Hope Pregnancy Center to train to help out there, but found out that I had to go through their post-abortion counseling program: PACE. I was a bit reluctant to really dig up my past. But by facing my past, I found true freedom!

Barbara and I spent 3 months looking through what the Bible said and how I could move on with my life. Romans 8:1-4 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

God does not want us to live as condemned people anymore. Psalm 32:1-11 – “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

While I kept quiet, I was wasting away. After I went through the counseling, I realized that the Lord could use me AND my past to minister to others. Psalm 34:1-2“I sought the LORD , and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”  I didn’t have to live with the shame and guilt anymore!!  And while I’m not proud of my past, I know that I have experienced forgiveness from Christ and God can use my life – mistakes and all, to help other women.  Because He has forgiven my sins and they are as far as “the east is from the west”, I can stand before him as child fully forgiven and unashamed.  Praise be to the Lord!!!