I wrote Saturday regarding the various feelings of guilt that we all carry around with us, and how that can completely poison a person, if we let it.
I was in the gym this evening, and struck up a conversation with a fellow. It turns out the guy is a physician's assistant in a prison, not too far away. He mentioned one particualr inmate they were having to give medical attention fairly often. The inmate was guilty of beating his wife almost to death, and was suffering from detox because he hadn't had any alcohol in quite awhile. The PA told me that he had asked the inmate if he was a man of faith. The man replied that he used to be, but wasn't anymore. When asked why, the inmate said that God wouldn't be able to forgive him for all the bad things that he's done. He could even quote some Scripture to back up his feelings that God has had it with him.
This sounds like a classic example of a person who has just killed himself with the burden of guilt. He did some bad things, and thinks he can't ever overcome them. He thinks that God himself has turned away from him. So he keeps doing what he was doing, because he thinks that's the best that he can hope for. He's wrong on so many levels. And it's sad. I shudder to think how many people in the world carry around the burden of their failures, and let them consume their whole lives.
Let me set something straight. The man's in prison because he deserves to be. He did some bad things, and he needs to be punished within the full bounds of the law. I'm still a firm believer in capital punishment, preferably doled out within hours of arrest. I am not soft on crime in any way, shape, or form. He'll pay the earthly price for what he did, but he's not a lost soul yet.
The amazing thing to me is that once he does his time, he can walk out and start all over again. Granted, he's a convict with a domestic violence rap that will haunt him the rest of his earthly days. He still has to pay the earthly price for what he's done. But he can start his life over again, amking it better than it was before. All he has to do is jettision the burden, give it over to the Man Upstairs.
This prisoner thinks that he's been cast aside by God. He doesn't realize that God's just waiting to swoop in and help him out. God's probably not going to get him out of prison anytime soon. But God can bring him peace in his life, and help make his life so much better than it has been.
He doesn't cast anyone aside. If he loved mankind enough to become flesh and blood, get beaten within an inch of his life, get nailed to a piece of wood and speared through the side; all to allow man to avoid having to pay the ultimate price for its sin, there's nothing this inmate can do to alienate the Big Guy.
The trick is getting the inmate to realize it. And the rest of us, for that matter.