Escaping the Enemy’s Territory
Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine, Publisher and Editor
Are you guilty?
When I lived in the Hudson Valley of New York, I worked for a public relations agency that was situated in a rural part of the county that I called home for five years. The narrow, two-lane road to the office was long and curvy and it winded through a dense rural stretch of land. It was common to see foxes and wild rabbits along the 19-mile drive. A sprinkling of farms dotted my commute, as did residential homes with chicken pens.
The Hudson Valley is only an hour or so from NYC, but in many ways it is continents apart.
The other common sighting was deer (New York State has an exceptionally high deer population, second only to new Jersey). Driving home one evening, a four-point deer dashed in front of my car from the woods on my right. Before I could brake, the deer bounced off my car. I heard a loud boom, and simultaneously swerved from the impact. I was able to stop the car. I turned my head to my left in time to see the deer at the edge of the woods on the opposite side of the road struggling to get to its feet; I watched as it eventually stood to its feet, and then crumpled back to the ground. This happened at least five times until it galloped off.
I pushed my flashers on, leaned back in my seat and let out a deep, shaky breath. That was scary. I got out to inspect my car. The front, right headlight was busted with the bulbs broken in pieces, and the front license plate was dented in and curled up. I didn’t see any other damage but since the sun was setting, it was getting dark.
I don’t remember getting back in the car, but I remember realizing that no cars had been coming from either direction, and, how the deer kept falling down, and a gush of tears dropped from my eyes. I was thankful, scared and sad all at once. I wept un-controllaby; I guess it was the shock and jolt of it all, I have no idea; but I could not stop crying for several minutes. I called one of my co-workers who was still at the office, told her what happened, and she came soon after. Then I called my Mom. Even though I was not hurt, my car wasn’t in bad shape, and the deer seemed ok, I still couldn’t stop crying…
Later I realized that I felt guilty for hitting the deer. It had not been my fault (I had the right-of-way. Ha!) I didn’t see it, and didn’t have time to stop, it came out of nowhere, but, I still felt guilty.
There are times when I recognize that I have treated someone unkindly, or when I’ve been unnecessarily impatient, and I feel guilty. Deep sigh; from glory to glory, right?
There is no harm in feeling emotions; God gives us emotions. The harm is in wallowing in an emotion, especially if it is the wrong emotion— like guilt.
It was not wrong for me to be affected by hitting the deer, though the waterfall caught me by surprise. I think it would have been odd if I had not been impacted on some level. However, I should not have felt guilty; sadness was okay, and more appropriate, I think, so long as I didn’t dwell there, either.
There is no condemnation in Christ, and so we need not toil in our emotions about our mistakes. Now, do we need to be aware of our behaviors, thoughts, words, and actions? Absolutely! We have to be aware in order to mature in our walk (the more mature we are, the more skilled we are for our battles with the enemy). Otherwise, we cannot experience conviction, which is what the Holy Spirit gives us as a signal that we made a misstep…conviction is not intended to torment us. Torment is deep in enemy territory…so is guilt.
When we wallow in guilt, the enemy is pulling the puppet strings. He’s having a field day in our emotions. Countless stories of addiction, conflict, relationship estrangement, and emotional strongholds such as depression, and even suicide are rooted in guilt. Broken fellowship and being unchurched are also sometimes spurred by guilt. The enemy will tell you that you should feel guilty, and that you should carry guilt — this is a false burden.
Guilt is a spiritual virus that infects our thanksgiving, our praise, worship, faith, and intimacy with the Lord.
Guilt is yet another one of the enemy’s ploys to make us doubt our worthiness, and eventually drive a wedge between us and God. As the chasm widens, we bear less fruit, and our spiritual fervor drops to lukewarm; and we know how God despises lukewarm temperatures. It’s true that God never leaves us or abandons, but we allow the wedge to to take root when when we give a foothold to guilt, and we nurse the wedge when we stop seeking Him and communing with Him because we can’t hold our heads up in His presence.
So, when I know I’ve treated someone unkindly, I am convicted, but not guilty. When we are convicted, we see our wrongs clearly and honestly, we don’t make excuses for committing those wrongs, we are repentant, and we are inspired to change.
Obviously we don’t get it right all of the time (In my case, I get it wrong often). Remember a righteous man falls down seven times, and stands up after each fall. This is a powerful metaphor for God’s mercy and grace. That’s what “from glory to glory” is all about.
We fall down. We stand. We fall. God kisses our scrapes and bruises, and collects all of our tears.
A couple of months after I hit the deer, I took my car in for an oil change. The technician came to the waiting room, and asked me, “Did you happen to hit a deer recently?” I answered, “Yes, how did you know that?” and he said, “Because some of the fur from its tail was stuck in your grill.”
I laughed all the way home.