Sunday, January 10, 2010

To be Innocent

Normally at this time on a Sunday morning I'm in the frenzy of packing a diaper bag, locating my smallest Bible to stuff in my purse, and trying to come up with outfits for myself and the kids. Curtis dresses himself most of the time.

Today, however, I am staying home with the kids. Right after Christmas Annabeth came down with yet another cold - the third or fourth in the same amount of weeks. I sort of lost count. Then she passed it to me around New Year's Eve and it knocked me out. I felt so sorry for her when I realized how horrible she must have been feeling but couldn't tell me. Now Jackson seems to have it. He woke up three times last night crying. So even though I would love to be going to my wonderful church this morning I am going to stay here and shower my little boy (don't tell him I called him little) with love and care. Annabeth is going to stay home too. The bright side is that maybe she won't get another cold this week! What she is getting is another tooth for a grand total of three.

A certain question has been running through my mind since before Christmas. What would it be like to know that you sinned but there was no way to be forgiven?

A couple of months after Annabeth was born I was trying to get back into aerobics. One evening I jumped in my Jeep with a smile on my face and a hop in my step and headed to the gym. I took a shortcut through my neighborhood, but I immediately realized I'd made the wrong decision when I saw about ten kids playing in a yard next to the street. If I'd seen them I would have taken a different route. I drove very slowly until I passed them and then I picked up speed (although I did not even reach the speed limit). All of a sudden a little dog came running down a driveway toward my car, barking all the way. I slammed on my brakes but I couldn't avoid him. To my horror, I hit the dog. A terrible chorus of ten children screaming - including those of the dog owners - filled the street. It was one of the worst moments of my life.

One of the boys who lived there went running through the front door that had accidentally been left open and got his parents. They came out and got the dog who was still alive but was writhing in pain and crying. The other little boy was in hysterics. I stood in their driveway trying to apologize and explain but no one could speak to me.

"What can I do?" I begged.

"Nothing."

I was completely devastated. Not only had I hurt and possibly killed this dog, but I had hurt this family and traumatized all of these kids. They would be able to look down a long street and see my car - the instrument of destruction - parked in our driveway. I was convinced that we'd need to move because I would be known as the wicked witch of the neighborhood. My kids would probably be bullied and have no idea why. But I would know.

It felt like my life was over. I went to the store and bought a card. I wrote a note about how sorry I was and how I would be praying for the dog and their family. I included my phone number in case they wanted to call and yell at me or to tell me how the dog was doing. I couldn't bear to show my face there again, so Curtis took it over. I wanted him to tell them how sorry I was. They weren't home, so he left the card on their doorstep.

Later I called my friend who lives near that family. I told her what had happened. "That was you?" Word had traveled fast. She'd heard that the dog was in rough shape. I felt sick.

I know in my mind that there was nothing I could have done to avoid the dog. I wasn't speeding and I wasn't being careless. As my friend suggested, maybe the Lord would use it to teach the children to be careful around the street. Even so, my heart desperately craved forgiveness.

It never came. We never heard from the family. Thankfully, I did hear from my friend that the dog was going to make a full recovery. That was such beautiful news to my ears. We have even seen the dog being walked down our street. I've wondered if they recognize my car in the driveway. Are they still mad at me? Were they ever mad? I know it's selfish to think of my own emotional needs in a situation like that. I have chosen to release it to God and move on. Although I promise you I do not take that shortcut anymore.

Last week at Passion we heard the story of 30,000 children in Uganda who were kidnapped by a rebel army and turned into soldiers. They were forced to torture and kill others, sometimes starting with their own family members. These are the Invisible Children you may have heard about. Many of them returned to their homes upon release and found that their parents were dead.

A husband and wife named Gary and Marilyn Skinner have taken in some of these children and put them in homes with a loving mother. They found these child soldiers wandering the streets with blood on their hands. There was no one to wash it off. They had nowhere to bring their guilt. The Skinners knew better than that. They are teaching them about the hope of Jesus Christ. These boys and girls who have carried the guilt of violent bloodshed have been told the good news that Jesus can forgive them. God loves them. They can be made into new creatures and they can stand righteous before God. They can be justified and renewed.

Is there anything more glorious? Imagine that you are eight years old and you have been made to kill a little baby with a stick by some sick man standing over you. Your life feels like it is ruined forever. You feel worthless and guilty. But a Savior reaches out to you. You are rescued from guilt, condemnation and despair.

Without the birth of Christ, without His sinless life, without the horrible death He suffered on the cross, without God's wrath toward our sin that He endured, without His resurrection from the dead, we would remain in our iniquity and guilt. We would stand guilty before Almighty God with no way to be forgiven. But WITH these things there is grace, forgiveness, life, beauty, wholeness, restoration, and innocence.

Thanks be to Jesus Christ our Lord who has rescued us from our sin and guilt. He has made peace between us and the Father by His own blood. When our faith is in Jesus, we are justified in the sight of God. Instead of our sin, the Father sees Christ's righteousness.

I don't know where you're at right now. Maybe your heart is overwhelmed with guilt and shame over something in your past. Or in your present. I've been there. The Bible says that we've all sinned. No one is exempt from the corruption that is born into the human heart. The good news is that anyone can receive forgiveness through faith in Christ. You can have it right now. He delights to give it to you.

We were told that one of the head soldiers in charge of training these children to kill and destroy has given his life to Jesus.

Redemption.

Time and time again I am struck by how divine the story of the Gospel is. It did not originate in the human mind. No man could invent something so beautiful.

72 comments:

Susie from Bienvenue said...

Thank you~

Longmeadow Mama said...

I always enjoy reading your posts, Amanda. This may be one of the most touching, meaningful ones ever. Thank you so much.
Kelli

Leah said...

Amanda,

I am a lurker to your blog. I read but rarely comment, however, this post was incredible. The gospel in a way that anyone can relate to.

The story of the Invisible Children just breaks my heart. God bless that precious couple. God bless them.

Thanks for a beautiful post.

Leah in Georgia

ThirtysomethingMom said...

Thank you for sharing.
I have been redeem, but I sin daily and praise God for forgiveness. I don't want to ever forget the cost of forgiveness.

To God be the Glory.

Amen

KR said...

So sorry you had to go through something so traumatic..and how I pray you are given continued peace. Selfishly, I am thankful for the word brought forth from your ordeal..powerful and much needed by me today. You've given me a big exhale of relief. Thanks for the reminder.

Traci said...

Wow, what a great post. Thank you for sharing.

Traci

Andrea said...

Glad you took that shortcut. Months later, it's been used to bring Glory to His matchless name. If only Toto and his owners could know how his suffering was used to tell about our undeserving forgiveness, I'm certain they would forgive you :)

amberburger said...

Manda.

I miss you too friend. Thanks for the fb post. It made me smile!! I love this post. Did you know that our Morobo Orphanage is full of what people call "the invisible children"? We kinda avoid the hype that has IC has gotten around the US in the last couple years, although we love the awarness this Non Profit has provided for the children of Uganda!

Morobo is about 7 miles north of where a good amount of the filming of that IC film was shot. Just on the Sudan side of the boarder of the Northern Ugandan boarder. A lot of the children were left to wonder and find there own way. They fled to Sudan to find saftey which is kinda shocking since Sudan is so very VERY warring country itself.

Friend. You guys are very missed by us. I am so glad Passion was such a great week for yall.
Praying that Jackson will get better oh so soon!

-A

Alison said...

Wow--what an amazing, post, Amanda. I am just in tears.Thank you for this.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Forgiveness like that is so counter-intuitive to how our own sin-warped minds see life, it's hard to comprehend. It's a gift indescribable and grace so undeserved.

How great is our God. You've led me to worship, Amanda.

Frances said...

Our family is adopting a little one from Uganda! What a blessing to be a part of seeing the Gospel! I was adopted into the precious family of God...and we can't wait to add a little one into our family...especially from such a country filled with orphans. I pray those who read your blog would pray about the journey of adoption!!! It is so the heart of God!! Thank you for bringing the struggles of those children of Uganda to light here on your blog.

Thrive!
Frances

Kim said...

Amen! It is horrific to hear of the things children are forced to do, I verge on physical illness when I hear these stories. Praise be to Jesus for using their stories to His glory!! I cannot imagine how broken their little hearts must be. Thank you for the reminder to pray over such children and for the sweet post.

Enjoy your Sunday.

kramerfamily said...

Redemption, what an amazing gift. Readily given to those who ask. Thank you for sharing.

Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Marc and Charity said...

"But a Savior reaches out to you."

Oh thank you Jesus!

Beth said...

That was something I really needed to hear right now. Thanks:)

sos said...

My heartached for you when I read you accidentally hit the dog. But praising God and thanking Him that this was not a small toddler child that could have easily sneaked out the open door. I know God will use this for the good.

The Invisbile children is too sad and they have not even reached the age of accountability. Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy.

Their account reminds me of a book I just finished reading which is a true story, "Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust"

Thank you for this wonderful post directing us to the cross.

Lauren said...

Amen.
And it doesn't have to be death or violence that condemns us; the "lesser" sins like pride or unkindness or lack of love make us fall short of the glory of God, too--maybe even more so because those things tend to blind us and harden our hearts. Praise God that he saves us when we are so unworthy.

Holly said...

I was telling the Lord the other day how much I loved a good redemption story and that most of all I love HIS redemption story over me.

By the way (please don't think I'm crazy), I prayed for you and your family this morning for I had a feeling that someone was sick. Just wanted you to know how awesome God is in His promptings to pray.

Glad that your being home allowed you to write this beautiful, beautiful post!

KyPianist said...

I, like Leah below, have been a lurker to your blog for the longest time, always being encouraged and loving your posts.

But this one I have to tell you 'thank you': for your honesty, your insight, and your wisdom. What a wonderful way to bring a horrible event that happened to you into an allegory of what we'd do without our Savior.

I know you and I probably won't meet this side of heaven, but I feel like you're my little sister that I've never had.

God bless you, sweet Amanda, for blessing me!

Patti in Tampa

soinluvwHim said...

Oh Amanda. Thank you for sharing your traumatic experience. I pray that God floods you with peace, strengthens that dog and touches that family with His healing Presence.

And I just had to tell you how inspired your post was. I haven't really shared what has been going on over there too deeply with my heart. My head has been trying to protect it from such tragic news. But the way you shared your story really drew me in and opened my heart to feel the horror of what those children are going through in a way I hadn't allowed. You snuck it up on me. Good for you!

Moose Mama said...

No words....except thanks be to Jesus for His sacrifice for me.

Melana

Kim said...

Although a completely different situation, I had similar thoughts not long ago when I was at a small chapel service and they ran out of communion and had to get more. I was next in line and would have waited, but the young man ahead of me passed his up for me. My friend was behind me and wouldn't get any.(until they got more) But I kept thinking about "what if" there wasn't enough of Christ's blood for all of us and we had to choose if we would be forgiven or let someone else receive it. Lasting impression!

Praise God that there is enough blood and enough forgiveness for all of us.

I pray that someday you will be able to again witness to this family in some way and show God's love to them and that God will use all of this for His glory and good.

I appreciate your honesty and authenticity. You are a joy.

boomama said...

Amen to Kelly's comment.

Absolutely beautiful post, sweet friend.

CAROL LIVIN FOR GOD said...

Amanda how awesome as I was reading your blog I thought of when I walked into church this a.m. and heard one of the sunday school teachers talking about we have all sinned and let me tell when God deals with your heart about some sin we completely have not ask for forgiveness for and I am talking about me God spoke to me and said you need to ask that person for forgiveness before you go on your trip to houston and I thought to myself you got to be kidding me Lord and He said you need to go ask for forgiveness so Thank God for speaking to my heart and telling what I need to do in that part and the rest of my life thanks Amanda I just had to share that with you.This post could have not come at a better time.
Have a Good Day
Carol

Amanda May said...

Wow. This is POWERFUL!! And might I suggest that maybe, just maybe, the Lord allowed that horrible incident with the doggie so that you could share this message of forgiveness & redemption with us today. Thank you.

And thank you for explaining who the "Invisible Children" are - I had heard of people supporting this cause, but didn't know anything about it. So glad I know now!

Jenna said...

Thanks so much! I always read your posts but don't always respond. Isn't it something how Satan can still make us feel guilty and worthless? He has sure been doing that lately so thanks for your post! God is so good!

Heidi Winter Tracht said...

Amanda,

What powerful examples of sin, forgiveness, and redemption! Thank you for your willingness to share.

Heidi

JayCee said...

Amanda,
Thank you for the transparency in this post and how it relates to all of us in one way or another.

I had a friend (of a friend) who went through a similar accident. She was having a hard time getting over it. I was able to share Jesus with her and she came to know His peace.

Praise the Lord for his unfailing love and benevolent mercy!

Gabby said...

I appreciate your vulnerability, and you are absolutely right, Jesus is enough to cover it all.

Redemption is such a hard lesson to learn, because you have to recognize what it is that you are being redeemed from... looking at sin in our lives is never enjoyable. Necessary, but not fun.

Sarah said...

Amen! Sorry you've been sick there, but thanks for still being tender to the Holy Spirit's teaching in the midst of it all. (and for sharing with us!)

Rhonda said...

Great post. An example we can all relate to. Thank you.

Dionna said...

I have tears in my eyes.

debra said...

Thank God, Yes, so thankful.

Danielle said...

Amanda, thanks for prompting some deep thinking today. I've never really given much thought about the possibility of not being forgiven. We are a blessed people indeed to have such a glorious, merciful God.

I was at Passion 2010, too. What an amazing, sacred time! This is my fourth year, and I'm not ready to let it go! Your mom and Piper just blew me away. Well, so did Louie, Stanley, and Chan. A-mazing! :-) Thanks for all you and your hubby did to contribute!

mhutsell said...

THis is so true. I have a similar situation where I cannot get a friend to return my messages and I have NO idea if or how I may have hurt her. I have NO idea what I could have done...I have not had an ill thought or word with her. But she still doesn't return my call. It may be unrelated to me. Trouble is, I have no way of knowing. I wish to say I am sorry if I offended or to hear what is happening in her life. But I cannot. I do think it is important to do all we can do on our part. That is all you can do. God help the other party. Bless you for sharing! Melissa.

6p00e5505feb168834 said...

His love for us astounds me! Thanks for posting this...it was needed today.

Jenilee

Heather said...

Amanda I love hearing your heart and I love how you share the gospel in such a way that touches so many. You write so beautifully and have such a gift. Loved this post friend. Hope your kiddos get to feeling better.

Emmy said...

Wow... I am speechless... beautiful post! I am going to print it out! Forward it to everyone I know! Thank you!

(I am so sorry you had to go through that with the dog... my heart just broke for you! : ( You have the most precious heart! ! I am glad he is going to be okay!)

Emmy : )

Bobbie said...

You're so special--thank you for sharing this.

Praying that Jackson will be better real soon and no one else gets sick! This freezing cold makes it even worse to feel yucky! Stay warm...Hugs to you all!

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

Amanda...WOW. What a beautiful post. I got goosebumps and tears, and it caused me to worship my God. Thank you.

Lauren Kelly said...

WOW, Amanda!!! Amazing post. Thank you for this.

Amber said...

How amazing His grace truly is!!! I just knew that you were going to be at Passion last week (my husband and I were too). I wish I could have met you in real life - I do love reading your blog :)
www.dixondialogue.com

Kiki said...

Wow, Amanda. Beautiful words.

Redemption. Praise Jesus!

I missed you at church this morning!

Good Stewarts said...

We missed you at church today. I hope everyone gets over their little sick bugs! Thanks for sharing via blog.

Kari said...

AMEN!

Diane's Doodlings said...

Amanda, I have tears in my eyes. The word forgiven have such resonance in my ears and my heart. Thanks for your post.

Kristen said...

What a beautiful post, Amanda. It definitely spoke to my heart.

Marla Taviano said...

Oh, Amanda. Thank you. Forgiveness is so hard for me sometimes. And I've NEVER had to forgive something really, truly hard. Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Beautiful.
Amen!

Paige said...

What a beautiful post! I have tears in my eyes from the words you wrote today.

I was a volunteer at Passion and remember hearing the story you referenced in your post. I remember how it gripped by soul and made me take a step back in my own life and remember how truly blessed I am.

I hope you have a great week!

Meli n Pat said...

That was incredible. Thank you for sharing that perspective.

dawn said...

Amanda--wow. I'm sorry you had such a terrible experience, but wow--to be brought to worship by this awesome illustration of God's redemption. He is a Redeemer who makes good out of bad. Amen!!

Lori at The Davidson Den said...

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I need constant reminding of how He's ready, willing, and able to forgive all my horrible sin! I often don't forgive myself and, therefore, often refuse to believe that my God loves me enough to redeem me that way.

Teri~Facedown said...

Beautifully written Amanda, thanks for sharing this.
:) Teri

annalee said...

thank you for sharing and teaching God's lessons through your experiences. i hope J and A are better soon!

truth4nothing said...

Such a intelligent, deeply searching post- bravo for adding value to the blog world.
Most of which is boring rot- oh wait that's me.

Melissa Stover said...

i think god had a reason for keeping you home today. he wanted you to write this.

Joni said...

Beautifully written and farther reaching than you will ever know.

Joni

Kelly said...

Isn't it funny (not ha-ha funny) that in sharing your painful experience, so many others may find redemption for the first time, or a renewed relationship with God? God's workings are truly beyond our understanding, in a way that is complex, yet beautifully simple. Thanks, Amanda.

Geezees Custom Canvas Art said...

WOW...great post, thanks for sharing!

Tonya said...

Thank you - I needed this today.

Sylvia V. said...

Amanda,

Thank you for sjro

Teri said...

WOW! My heart is broken for these "Invisible Children"; God bless the Skinners for making a difference in their lives! Thank you for sharing this.

Prayers you all are feeling better!

Sylvia V. said...

Amanda,

Thank you for sharing the experience at home and in your neighborhood and also your experience at Passion 2010.

As I awoke on New Year's Day morning in my mind and Spirit all I could hear was Travis Cottrell singing Jesus Saves. Now 11 days into 2010 that song continues to resonate with me. As I was reading from the beginning of your post was "Jesus Saves" rather quietly and the crescendo to the forte and back to a pianisamo by the end of your post. How thrilling to know with all assurance in all of life's ups and downs no matter what, "Jesus Saves".

Thank you for blessing me today.

Sylvia V.

Kristi said...

Beautiful. Thought provoking. Grace inspiring. How blessed we are indeed. Thank you, Amanda, for taking the time to get these thoughts on your blog. I was blessed today.

Kristi in Texas

Kaye said...

Amazing post. Maybe the whole experience was so that you could write this post and touch so many. Thank you for sharing.

Andrea said...

oh wow. wow. wow. wow. wow.
my heart aches and soars at once.

Rachel Cox said...

Wow Amanda - this was beautiful. Simply beautiful.

raising2sons.wordpress.com said...

Amanda,

I've never commented before, but I've been a reader for awhile, and just wanted to tell you what a sweet soul you are!

We all need reminders like this, and your post was heartbreaking and hope-filled at the same time.

You have a beautiful family...God bless you.

Stacy

Tracey said...

Wow, I will be drawing wisdom from this post for a long time. I'm so glad BooMama sent us over here to read.

The Scooper said...

Came over from Boo Mama. I don't know that I've ever thought of the concept of not being able to be forgiven and the anguish that would bring. I hate to admit it but sometimes I think I take forgiveness for granted.