Anger and Guilt..at the Foot of the Cross
It had been another wet night. Nothing new in the coastal rain forest of Washington. My crew was stowing our gear in the gang box and I was heading into the office to give my report of the night’s work. When I got to the bottom of the stair tower, I heard someone call my name from above. Looking up into the dark drizzle, I could only make out a bulky figure three floors above me leaning over and yelling, “Hey, you better get back up here, we got a problem!” I shook my head and thought, “What now?” But I trudged back up the steps as quickly as I could.
When I got to the top of the tower, I could see it was Lenny and he looked worried. “John, we got trouble!” he paused, and I waited for him to go on. “Jamie just slugged one of the carpenter bosses and he is wanting to see our crew boss and that be you.” I sighed knowing this was not going to be good. “Where are they? I asked, but looking over his shoulder I could see a whole crowd of guys heading my way, with Jamie in the center of it. I also saw who he must have punched in front of the crowd, Lester Cone. This was not going be good this was going to be worse. Lester and I already had I hate relationship going…. Oh boy!
As he drew closer I could see that his right eye was swelling, and he was walking kind of funny. I spoke first, “What’s going on Lester? I heard you wanted to see me.” He kind of sputtered and stuttered finally getting out, “This is your fault! You encourage these guys to think they can get away with anything. But not this time. I want that kid’s brass and I am going to ask that they run you off, too!” I really hated this guy and at the moment I did not care if he got me fired, I wasn’t going to listen to him. I said, “Lester, don’t threaten me! Go file a complaint but not against the kid. Just put my name on the form. I told him to hit you if you kept whining about our hogging the use of the crane for the last week and he did. It was my fault, you were right for once.” He looked at me through his one good eye and said, “So tough. So smug. But this is the end.” As he turned away his shoulder glanced off me and without thinking, I swung him around and punched him in his left eye. “There, now you have a matching set!” I said. Boy, was I right, this was going to be terrible!
I had many fights during my years under the influence. Trouble seemed to follow me around. Or maybe it was the other way around, I was following it. But the sad truth is it really did not make any difference. I wasted a lot of time being angry and alcohol along with drugs just made it worse.
I know now that a lot of that anger came from guilt. Guilt about my son, about my life style and the people I messed over along the way. But I really had no way of dealing with the guilt. It was just there, and it gnawed at me. Result was anger and from that violence.
That was one of the truly amazing things that happened when I was being transformed through the Word of God. The guilt I felt did not go away at first. I carried it with me like extra baggage. I had found so many promises in the Word that opened me to letting go, but first I had to believe in the one who already died carrying that baggage. I had to put my faith in Jesus Christ.
Reading this, “Then Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry every burden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) I really wanted to trust that it was true, believe. But I did not. Then one of the many miracles of my life happened, I was looking at a Bible commentary for a completely different reason when I read this “There is nothing in faith that makes it our savior. Faith cannot remove our guilt. Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe. The justification comes through the merits of Jesus Christ. He paid the price for the sinner’s redemption. Yet it is only through faith in His blood that Jesus can justify the believer.” (SDA Bible Commentary Volume 6, pg. 1071.9) I saw it, my faith could not save me or take my guilt away. He had already done so, on the cross. It made sense and I found I could believe it. That was the Holy Spirit.
He opened the door. If I was now willing to confess I believed there would be forgiveness. I started to seek out promises in His Word. One of my favorites was and still is, “I will cleanse them from their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me. (Jeremiah 33:8) Or Hebrews 8:12, “I will forgive their wickedness and I will never again remember their sins.” When I was able to lay my guilt at the foot of the cross, I found my anger was laid there too. God is good!
Back on that jobsite years ago, Lester tried to have me fired and he sought to have me arrested. Maybe that would have been a good thing. But neither thing happened. I continued to walk through life guilt ridden and angry for many years to come. I cannot say today, I do not regret many of my decisions, but I know that through the blood of Jesus I have been forgiven. I continue to seek way to recompense those I have hurt. If you are one, I am sorry. If you are seeking to lose your guilt baggage then know, “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) To that I say Amen.