"What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in Prayer."
I'd love to print the whole song (words by Joseph Scriven, music by Charles C. Converse), but I won't. That's something you can find online. You could also find the story behind the song online, but I do think I'll include that here in a very brief sentence or two.
The words weren't originally intended to be a song. Mr. Scriven's mother was dying, and since he could not be there by her side he sent her these verses, hoping to comfort her.
That happened to me, too. Not the writing of a famous verse, but the agony of not being able to be with my mother as she was dying. I lived a thousand miles away, and the call from my brother told me she could no longer swallow. She had long before stated her wishes not to be kept alive with machines. Dementia had stolen her intelligence, her personality, and her dignity. It was time to allow her to join her Lord. I agreed with her and with my brother's decision not to prolong her agony.
Back to the song.
I've been guilty of trying to atone for my own sins, to carry my own burdens. For instance, I couldn't say "No." I figured the more I did, the more I could make up for all my shortcomings. And I do have lots, still, but perhaps not the same or as damaging as the ones I used to have.
And carrying my own burdens? Yes, and for anyone else who would let me. How else could I get rid of all that guilt?
I'm getting a little better. I try just to carry the burdens He gives me--they are light-weight and fun. Sometimes I have to give him my load of guilt again. It keeps creeping back to cripple me with its weight, but I give it back to the only One who really knows what to do with it.
Oh yeah, guilt is sneaky, isn't it?
But what a Friend we have in Jesus. He forgives, one hundred percent, all the time, every time. That's not to say we have the right and privilege to run back out and do whatever again. But when we do slip up, and when we return to Him and say "I'm sorry" one more time or a hundred more times, He still says, "You are forgiven."