Guilt. Oh, the scars it leaves! And, oh, the burden of always carrying it around! I have decided that the God I know would not want us to live with a lifetime of guilt.

I have been making a concerted effort to read the bible from beginning to end. I have half of the Old Testament yet to go. While plodding through Isaiah, I’ve been reading words like good news, peace, happiness, and salvation. “I…am He who comforts you.” “…Shout joyfully together.”

For years, I often went to church because I was told I had to go. Sometimes it was fine, but other times left me irritated and sorry I had gone. Today, I attend church because I want to be there. In this church, I find a church family that is warm, that knows one another and cares about each other. I see members who are involved, and who reach out. All of that makes me want to be there.

“Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the worthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Even through the violence one sees in the Old Testament, I read positive things. I hereby resolve that as I begin this new year, I know I am forgiven. And I know my God is a loving God. He is a God of justice, a God of comfort, and a God of love. I do not believe that He wants us to live our lives regretting and reliving actions and thoughts from our past. I believe He means for us to move forward, to do good, and to reach out to others.

No, I resolve to put the past behind me. What’s done has been done. I resolve to be a better person. I will reach out to those around me. I will attempt to share God’s love and compassion. I will not be negative, and I will not say hurtful things. The God I know is a joyful one, who wishes to share His joy in us with us, and I resolve to share that joy with others. Happy New Year to all!

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The Prisoner's Prayer Book

Louise is author of The Prisoner's Prayer Book which evolved as she became a volunteer in prison ministry. Retired from a career in social services, Louise resides in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

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