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Picking up offenses

Built on a Rock
Pastor Annette Junak, Rock River Community Church, Luverne

If you are like me, once you start eating chocolate, it’s hard to stop, especially M&M’s. Sure, a few can be harmless, but too many bring unwanted or unexpected consequences. When this happens, I get upset with myself and begin that negative self-hate talk because I didn’t have enough discipline to stay away; but I chose to pick them up and started with just one harmless M&M.
That’s a lot like offenses – we choose to pick them up. We start to think we are justified, or we deserve to carry them because it’s our right. So and so said this to me, and so and so said that to me. Soon we become critical, and we can even start picking up other people’s offences.
Slowly over a 3-4 year process and through a series of events, this happened to me. I found myself in a dark valley, paralyzed by doubt and fear. I had started picking up and carrying not only my offenses but many from my family as well.
I could hardly turn my neck, I had a twitch I couldn’t control, my forehead was so heavy that my husband noticed my face structure changing, I was zapped of energy, and I had no motivation.
These offences were literally weighing me down, causing me not only emotional damage but physical limitations as well. During all of this, I was still loving God, pursuing him, and counting the many blessings he had given me.
One evening on a cold and windy December night, my son was preaching and there was a presence in that room like I hadn’t felt for a while. As my son got up to preach, he said, I’m relying 100 percent on the Holy Spirit and there is someone in this room who really needs to hear what the Spirit is saying tonight. He proceeded to open his Bible to the 23rd Psalm, a very familiar passage that many of us know from memory.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want” – He gives me everything I need. Then BOOM! There it was in verse 4, “Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” I suddenly realized that I had stopped walking. In that moment I heard the Holy Spirit say, “You need to cast your cares on me. Let me carry those offenses; it’s not your job. I did not design you for that.” As I released them to Him, instantly the pain in my neck was gone and the heavy weight lifted.
I wish I could say that the struggle of picking up offenses was gone, but I had to practice what Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. …”
Remember, what starts out as harmless, can lead us down a path we didn’t intent to be on.

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