Gabriel was angry at his brother, so he hit him. Typical sibling squabble. Gabriel knew what he did was wrong and that his actions would have consequences. As I sat across from him on the floor of his bedroom, it was obvious he did not want to be there. He knew what he had to do when we were done. He had to go to his brother and ask him for forgiveness. That, he was willing to do. But when I told him that our sin against others is first a sin against God, he became uncomfortable. Bowing his head and asking God for forgiveness for his actions was the more difficult task for Gabriel. He agonized over it for quite some time before he finally prayed. But Gabriel is not alone in this struggle. This happens to many of us, doesn’t it?
I have been in Gabriel’s shoes many times before. I have gone to great lengths to reconcile relationships damaged by my sinful actions, but come short of mending the break in fellowship I have with The Lord. How foolish to think that I could avoid facing God! Yet still, I attempt to cover my shame with fig leaves and hide among the trees, as Adam and Eve did. “What is it that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13). The Lord’s question is clear. He is not asking why. He is not requiring an explanation of motives and reasoning behind the disobedience. Wouldn’t that be a complicated web for us to unravel? God is simply asking what. He wants us to stop hiding, confess our sins, and He will be faithful to cleanse us (1 John 1:9).
Clearly, Gabriel was afraid of going to God. So I reminded him that He is a loving God who wants to forgive us. There is no need to turn the other way. Our efforts to conceal our transgressions would be futile, but His all-sufficient grace covers them all. He is always ready with open arms to receive us when we go humbly before Him. Oh, how I would rather be in His arms than in the mire of my sin!
“But while he [the prodigal son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
(Photo credit: Remy Saglier)