When I opened up the office Tuesday morning, I kept hearing a beep going off every half minute or so. It sounded like a low battery warning from a smoke detector. It brought back bad memories of our smoke detector battery warning in Tennessee that always went off in the middle of the night. I’d quickly grab a chair so I could disconnect it until morning. This was a faint, but still annoying beep and I couldn’t find out where is was coming from. After tip-toeing around the office to zero in on the sound, I finally found the culprit. It was a carbon monoxide alarm resting on a shelf between the two secretary desks. The low battery light was flickering wildly, so I pulled out the old battery and left the unit on my secretaries desk – since I had no idea where a new nine volt battery might be stored in our office. Secretaries and wives always know where things are.
It made me laugh to think about an alarm warning me about the alarm. I guess you can’t have too many alarms. It only takes that one time when you truly do need the warning that the alarm becomes the most valuable possession you own. It’s not longer annoying.
That, in turn, reminded me of a point I made in my lesson on Sunday. I was talking about guilt being a spirit quencher. The cold water of guilt smothers the flame of excitement and joy, turning your faith into a heap of wet ashes. Guilt is a God-given alarm in our life that something is wrong. Guilt is the feeling of conviction we get when we know we did or are doing the wrong thing. It shows us that we have values and principles defining right and wrong. God never intended for any of us to live in guilt, but He did intend for us to feel the sting of guild and do the right thing to remove it. In Psalm 51, David is grieving about his guilt, and he pleads with God to not only forgive him but restore his sense of cleanness and peace so he could be in relationship with Him again. At first, he had deadened his feelings of guilt until Nathan verbally slapped him awake. He was guilty of rape, adultery, and murder, and probably worst of all – pride. His sin caused the death of a good man, a friend, one of his Mighty Men, and the death of his son, who was more innocent than any of them. His words in Psalm 51 probably reflect not only his guilt, but his difficulties in accepting the forgiveness of God. Nathan had already told him he was forgiven, but he was painfully aware of how much he had disappointed God. He was struggling to find that balance between rejoicing in God’s grace and not presuming on His grace.
God never intended on any of us drowning in guilt. His grace covers all our sin and guilt, even if we struggle to accept it. Grace is our motivation not our permission. It warns us and drives us to change, and then we must let go of it and give it to God. See, alarms aren’t so bad after all.