IF I GAIN a few pounds, there’s no hiding it. I may try to ignore it, but I feel it in the tightness of my clothes, I notice it in my reflection when I pass storefront windows, and I can’t miss it in my large bathroom mirror. In some very literal ways, the effect is always before me. And I know the cause.

That’s the way it is for all who have sinned—we’ve fallen short of God’s glory, and there’s no escaping it . . . on our own. We can pretend it’s not there, but only until reality reflects upon us. As long as we try to cover it up on our own, it will always remain before us.

God loves us too much to leave us to ourselves in sin. He allows guilt’s oppression to reflect deeply within us so that we’ll take that first step by coming to Him and repenting. In Psalm 32, David wrote, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” Until God’s hand brings our souls relief, it can only rest heavily there.

Shame and guilt are heavy burdens for our souls to bear. But they are much easier to lose than those extra pounds I carry around. (I sometimes can be tempted to wish His Spirit would so easily lift some of my pounds from my flesh.) But when Jesus forgives us, He removes the weight from our souls. The only exercise required is one bent knee.

Don’t let the mistakes God forgave yesterday make you feel like a failure today.

Nancy Reinke lives in Oregon with her artist husband. She enjoys writing, quilting, gardening, and encouraging others.