I have just retired from teaching High School. I have done some introspection, examining my conscience, and these are the conclusions I have come to: 1) I have only taught scientific facts; 2) My empty life was not always a good example for my students; and 3) Although I always put on a good front, I wasn’t good on the inside: I was a secret alcoholic and a lying politician. I have sinned in every way.
Jesus Christ has been just another icon on my computer. I want to find my way to an authentic life.
After a busy and productive life, you now have more quiet time to consider the meaning of life. You have deep regrets for some of your actions, but you know that you can’t go back and start over, nor can you undo what has been done. Although you didn’t mention this specifically, at the age of retirement many people also think more seriously about the end of their lives and the afterlife. You did, however, acknowledge that you have reevaluated the significance of Jesus Christ in your life.
Your thoughts remind us of the great King David of Israel. Though King David had done many good things in his life, there came a time when he did many things that he was ashamed of. First, he committed adultery. Then, to cover up the adultery, he schemed and tried to manipulate the woman’s husband. When that didn’t work, he was responsible for the death of that man. And to the people that became aware of David’s devious actions, he was certainly not a good example to follow.
Finally, when David was forced to examine his conscience and consider all that he had done, he realized the damage he had done to himself and others, and deeply regretted it. He prayed, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”1
So when we begin to think that God could never forgive us for something we have done, we only need to read the case of David to know that there is no sin that is too bad for God to forgive. Just as God forgave David and began a fresh relationship with him, God will do the same for you today. And just as David prayed a prayer of repentance, you too can pray and ask God to forgive all your sin in the name of Jesus Christ, His Son.
After you have prayed that prayer and had your sins forgiven, you can begin to live the authentic life that you desire to have. Of course, being human, you will sometimes slip back into your old patterns and find yourself doing things you are not proud of. That is why you need to see every day as a new opportunity to ask for God’s forgiveness and help. We also recommend that you immediately find a group of Alcoholics Anonymous to help you stop your secret addiction.
In addition, you will find it easier to live an authentic life if you surround yourself with people who have that same goal. Studying the Bible together with them will give you the strength that you need to follow through with your new resolutions.
We wish you peace and a true sense of significance,
Linda and Charles
1 Ps 51:1-2