I was a young mother and a young pastor in my first call. My daughter was four and my son Ben was 18 months old. Life was hectic in those days, trying to keep up with a busy parish and a home with two very active little ones.
My husband and I were going out that night to an international potluck. We were running late, as usual, and were trying to get our act together. We needed to give the kids a bath before we left and we needed to prepare something to take to the potluck. My husband took bathroom duty, and I started cooking. The counter was cluttered with dirty dishes and I didn’t have time to deal with them. So I just scooted them aside and made myself a small work space as well as a space for the wok to heat. I poured oil into the wok to heat it up while I began wrapping egg rolls. I was so frazzled that I wasn’t paying close attention. And I did something that I knew I should never do. I left the cord to the wok hanging over the kitchen counter.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw little Ben trotting into the kitchen buck naked. He had escaped from his father. And I stood about two yards away as I watched his chubby little hand tug on the electric cord to the wok. It happened so fast, but I remember watching it like it was in slow motion. There was nothing I could do. Hot oil landed on his head and ran down his back.
Well, this was just the beginning of the nightmare. One thing led to another and we spent years in hospitals dealing with the devastating results of this burn. Of course, while we were going through all of this, there was no disputing one critical fact. It had been my fault. It was my carelessness. There was no rationalizing my way around it. I was Ben's mother, the one who was supposed to protect him from anything bad happening to him, and look what I had done.
I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. How could Ben ever forgive me for this? How could my husband forgive me? Most significantly, how could I ever forgive myself? How could I ever get past it?
There was only one way. By the grace of God. By knowing the loving forgiveness of God, I also came to love and forgive myself. And I can tell you that there’s no other way I could have made it. In my struggles, I just couldn’t let go of the guilt. But as I prayed and worked through it, I kept coming back to the grace of God.
Finally, I had to ask myself-- If God can forgive me, why can’t I forgive myself? Do I think I know more than God? I realized that God’s grace was even greater than the difficulty I had receiving it. I could beat myself up all I wanted, but God was gonna keep on loving me anyway. It was one of those life-changing experiences for me as God’s grace became so real.
I know that God loves me, no matter what I’ve done. And that by his grace he makes me a new person. He’s able to transform my life through my struggles and take me to a place I never knew before. It’s happened in my life over and over again. Despite my limitations, God doesn’t give up on me. He comes after me with his grace. Just as he comes after you.