So That …

On March 17th, I attended the 2012 Hearts at Home Conference in Normal, Illinois. The fist speakers of the day were reality TV stars Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. As I listened to the famous couple talk about the circumstances that led up to their series, “19 Kids and Counting,” two words came up so frequently in their conversation that I felt compelled to make them the cornerstone—and title—of mine as I learned how:

  • God told Jim Bob to run for a seat on the US Senate so that …
  • a photographer could take his family’s picture when they showed up at the polls so that
  • the New York Times would buy the photo and write about the large family from Arkansas who supported their father on election day.

Sometimes you have to let go of something good to make room for something great. Jim Bob had to lose his race for US Senate so that he could say “yes” to a documentary and the television series that followed. It’s a lesson that inspired me to create my latest (and shortest) parenting rhyme as I concluded that every “drat” has a “so that.”

It’s hard to understand in our darkest moments that God’s hand will one day be removed to let in the light, but it does happen when we lean on verses like Romans 8:28 and Isaiah 43:19.

I’ve had a lot of “so that’s” in my life. One of the most memorable occurred in 2010 when:

  • my ovaries stopped producing estrogen so that …
  • my digestive system would slow to a crawl so that
  • the doctor would schedule a colonoscopy ten years before my first one would normally be due so that
  • the silent killer known as colon cancer could be discovered before it had time to spread.

Hind sight is not just 20/20. It’s a 10-4 that God is at work in our lives. The disciples realized this first hand when:

  • God sent his son to die on a cross for our sins so that …
  • all who believe in him will have eternal life so that …
  • we are free to serve God, not out of obligation, but in celebration of what Jesus did to save our lives.

This wasn’t what the apostles had asked for. They were looking for someone to save them from the Romans, not themselves.

I read once that the purpose of prayer is not to tell God what we want from Him, but to teach us about what He requires of us. Jim Bob knew this when, on the heels of defeat, He prayed for insight into what God would have him do next with his life. Our challenge is the same as we ask, not for our will to be done, but to understand His and trust that when things don’t turn out the way we hoped they would, God can use bad for good.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

(Isaiah 43:19)

The Reality of Remorse

I recently read something on guilt that I wanted to 1) commit to memory and 2) share with all of you. Since posting the information to my blog helps me to accomplish both objectives, this week’s update is more about learning than discerning. My hope is that the former will lead to the latter as you open your divine textbook and meditate on these words from 2 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 10:

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

I never understood the difference between the two kinds of sorrow mentioned in this verse until I read the book Boundaries with Teens by Dr. John Townsend. According to the author, the Godly sorrow that the apostle Paul was referring to is remorse and worldly sorrow is guilt. (see p. 40)

Townsend went on to say that guilt (i.e., the feeling of self-condemnation over doing something that hurts another person) is not a helpful emotion because it is centered on our failure instead of the other person’s pain. Remorse, in contrast, is a solution-oriented approach that frees us to be sad and to undo the damage that we have done.

Knowing that guilt is never a good substitute for letting go makes me wonder: Why do some people hold onto it with fists so full of self-condemnation that they will never get a grip on grace?

Life is too short to live with regret so let’s not waste another minute on unproductive thoughts. Instead, the next time we are tempted to nail ourselves to a cross of condemnation, let’s remember that those who know Jesus have no right to take away from what he did to make sure that every sinner can be redeemed.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1