Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Friday, February 3, 2017


Week 5  Trust and Know

Day 34


If he does not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good.
Matthew Henry[i]

…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:8


ne afternoon my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, was feeling even more confused than usual. At two in the afternoon she went into the bathroom and donned a nightgown and robe, and when she emerged she was bewildered. "Have I had supper?” she asked, “Is it time to go to bed?" Later she got dressed for the day once more. 

As I prayed for Mom, I felt a sense of recognition, because I had been feeling disoriented myself. My 100-day journey--begun as a weight loss program--had become more about getting rid of excess psychological baggage than excess weight. So much dross had surfaced in such a relatively short time that, much like Mom, I felt the need to stop and say, "Now, where am I? What am I doing?" The only difference was that Mom was disoriented as to the time of day while my area of confusion had to do with changes in long held status quos of the emotional and spiritual domains. I’ve heard people refer to faulty beliefs as familiar spirits; negative influences that have been with us so long that we have accepted them as truth. My familiar but faulty way of thinking had caused repeated attempts to earn my own way to righteousness, despite my professed belief that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross had paid the price for all of my sin.

My lifelong pattern had been to cycle between bouts of self-condemnation and self-righteousness, but as I began what I thought would be a fairly straightforward weight loss program and titled it “100 Days to Freedom,” the Lord narrowed my options. A series of illnesses and injuries rendered me incapable of physical exercise, and my best efforts to control my eating habits failed. I felt betrayed by the Lord. “I’ve done my very best and You haven’t answered my prayers!” I cried.  

It was with shame that I realized the Lord might well reply, “And I have done My very best through the gift of My son, and yet you have not availed yourself fully of the freedom that is yours in Christ.” 

It is frightening to feel oneself at a turning point, but to be suffused by fear of missing a never-to-be-regained opportunity for deliverance from the burdens of self-inflicted pain. Because there hadn’t yet been an outward change in my appearance, I lashed out at the Lord for not helping me more. I wanted outward signs, but the Lord was after a change of heart. 

At this point in my journey I could not see the path ahead. I didn’t know if I would lose weight or not. I didn’t know whether I was going to suffer cataclysmic health consequences from years of high cholesterol and overweight. It took awhile for me to admit helplessness; ill health from repeated viruses, and an unnamed, chronic ailment that left me with aching joints and depressed spirits had immobilized me before I admitted defeat. I finally understood that my turning point wasn’t what I had thought it would be; it didn’t represent a day when I would finally become all I knew I should be. The change of heart God was after was for me to fall back into His arms rather than plunge forward in my own strength. 

With our God it always comes back to love, His love for us and ours for Him. He is a Father who stands with open arms, a lover who will never turn His back, and a faithful friend. He is more than all these; He is the Almighty God. The only rule He places over our heads is not a rule at all, it is an amazing invitation to love Him most of all, and then to let His love flow through us to bless others.

Not long after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Mom wrote, "This is one of those days I don't know who I am, where I am, or why, but God knows, and when He's ready He'll fill me in!" Let’s pray for faith to rest in the Lord's knowledge and wisdom, even when we can't understand or see clearly ourselves.

Pray:  Lord, please forgive me for my reluctance to accept the cleansing You have provided through Jesus Christ, and for my efforts to be good enough in my own strength. I entrust my past, present, and future into Your hands. I trust You to guide me when I can’t see the way. Help me to keep my ears open to Your voice and my heart inclined toward You, and help me to answer Your sweet invitation to love You best of all. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.


The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:23-24  NLT

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26 

[i] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Matthew 6, public domain.

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