Guilt and Grace

The following second-hand banana story was written by my mom, Monica Burney. As she says, this story is a great reminder of how much God loves to bless His children and for me, it is also a fresh reminder that:

guilt and grace are like water and oil. They don’t mix.


Satan loves to try to make us feel guilty about anything and everything and we do a pretty good job ourselves of doing the same. We not only heap guilt on ourselves, but we also point fingers and guilt-trip others.

But grace sings a different tune. It goes something like this:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 8:1

A Royal Belt

By Monica Burney

Recently, while visiting friends, my husband and I drove up the highway about a half hour from where we were staying and wandered through a delightful Farmer’s market on a perfect autumn evening.

Aside from checking out the wares offered by the many vendors lining one of the main streets of the charming coastal town, I had not planned to wander into any of the shops at all. However, mid-evening, a few shops caught my attention and I went in for a quick look. At the third shop I entered, a clothing store, I immediately found a pair of dressy sandals that appeared to be just the right design to accommodate special issues I have with my feet.

These sandals would be perfect for a special event that was awaiting us soon after we arrived home. In addition, as my only casual belt was beginning to show signs of wear, I was also in the market for a new belt. The belts I looked at the day before at the only department store I usually frequent, did not have anything even close to the basic design I was accustomed to wearing. As I considered the dressy sandals, I walked around a little more and quickly spotted a belt that was the right length, color and design.

I finished perusing the entire store and then decided to try on the sandals. Even though the price was more than I had ever paid before for a pair of dress shoes, because my feet are so difficult to find comfortable shoes for, I decided this was an investment I must make.

As is customary with me, I had checked the price when I first noticed them.

The belt was a different story.

For some strange reason, I broke with my ritual and had not looked at the price tag. I guess in my subconscious, I thought:

“How expensive could a belt be?”

At the register as the sales clerk rang up the two items, she did not inform me of the “damages.” She just gave me the charge slip to sign. Once again, breaking from my usual model operandi, I did not look at the final amount on the charge slip. It was as if I was being blinded to the cost. For if I had noticed how much the belt was, I would never have paid that extravagant amount for such a mundane necessity item. Surely, after a more exhaustive search back home, I would’ve found something in the normal price range for such an item.

The next morning, it was beginning to gnaw at me that I had bought the two items without having a sense of what I had spent. I dug through my wallet to find the receipt. To my absolute horror and dismay, I saw the amount I paid for the belt and had immediate sticker shock.  I knew I could not keep such an expensive item and determined we would have to now make an unscheduled stopover back to this city, en route on our trip home.

When I got to the store, the front door was cracked open. The sales clerk saw me from the sales clerk saw me from the sales counter and quickly came over to the door. She said they weren’t open yet but invited me in. We had a lovely exchange the previous night, which I believe was a distraction from my focusing on the cost of the purchase. I now had to explain that I felt guilty spending such a lavish amount on a belt and needed to return it.

She informed me that because they were a small boutique shop, she could not give me a refund, she could only offer me store credit.

I understood the reason for such a policy but it did not ally my extreme disappointment and frustration at being stuck with such an expensive belt. Those who know me well, know  I am someone who would much rather spend money on others, especially those who are far less fortunate than I.

As we traveled the long journey home that day, God began to speak into my thoughts and heart about the belt. He reminded me that He is the King of kings and the owner of cattle on 1,000 hills. He reminded me I am the daughter of the King and that, as such, I am greatly valued and dearly loved. Me, despicable me, who just recently had been shown all my sins in one fell swoop. Who had been overcome with inconsolable grief at this revelation. God whispered in His still, small voice:

“Don’t feel guilty about the belt. It’s my gift to you. I love you with an everlasting, extravagant love, far beyond your comprehension. Receive this gift from me, your Abba, and remember in this situation, the guilt you’re feeling is not from Me. This gift is My way of saying that I am well-pleased with you for your faithful obedience to Me, even in the midst of having so recently uncovered many secret, sinful places in your heart. I love you, my darling daughter.”

I could not believe what I was hearing. My heart was overcome with joy and full of gratitude as I fought back tears. This love is too wonderful to fully process. I’m so undeserving, yet His love, mercy and grace are too irresistible to ignore.

Thank you, Father, for loving me so far beyond what I can ever imagine. I receive this gift as a reminder that You take great pleasure in blessing Your children. May I not keep this blessed revelation to myself, but share it with others so that they, too, may know Your extravagant love.

Amen and AMEN!



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