It’s a tried and true parable. I’ve read in a number of times, and I’m sure you have too. But it is worth repeating. Do here goes…
Nine year old Sam was visiting his grandparents’ big farm where he loved to walk in the woods with his slingshot. He practiced shooting rocks at trees and bottles and cans, but he didn’t hit much. You see, Sam was still working on his accuracy.
One evening after a day in the woods, he heard the dinner bell calling him home. As Sam walked toward the house he spotted his grandmother’s pet duck walking by the pond. He never dreamed in a million years he could hit the duck, but just for fun he pulled the slingshot back and let it fly. Believe it or not, the rock hit the duck square in the head. The duck dropped dead without even one last quack!
Sam was shocked. He’d never hit anything he aimed at! He felt terrible.
In a panic, he ran to the dead duck and carried it behind the barn where he buried it in the woodpile. Sam was headed into the house, feeling terrible still, when he spotted his 12 year old sister, Julie, and realized she’d watched the whole sordid affair.
That night after dinner, their grandmother said, “Julie, I’d like you to stay and help me do the dishes if you don’t mind.”
“Grandmother,” she replied, “I’d love to, but Sam said he wants to do the dishes tonight.”
As she walked out past Sam, she whispered in his ear, “Remember the duck.” Trapped, Sam went over and did the dishes.
The next morning their grandfather invited both Sam and Julie to go fishing, but his wife had another plan. “I really need Julie to stay here and help me do some chores,” Grandmother said.
Julie countered, “Grandmother, Sam said he’d like to stay with you and help you out today.”
Once again, his sister walked past Sam and muttered, “Remember the duck.” Sam did the chores. Julie went fishing.
After a couple of days of hard labor, doing both Julie’s chores and his own, Sam had had enough. He fessed up.
“Grandmother, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, but I killed your duck.”
His kindly grandmother gave him a big hug. “Sammie, I know what happened,” she said. “I was standing at the window watching the whole thing take place. I saw how shocked you were and I’ve already forgiven you. I’ve just be waiting to see how long you would let Julie make a slave of you.”
That’s the problem with guilt. It turns you into a slave. Sammie was so guilty for killing the pet duck, he tried to hide it, but was caught by his sister. And she took advantage of his guilt.
Sure, we have to have remorse, but we shouldn’t hang on to the guilt. It’s better to fess up and be forgiven. Notice, I didn’t say it was forgotten, but the act — whatever it was — was forgiven.
We all have something in our lives we would do over. But it is remembering what we did and, more important, what we learned that overpowers any guilt. We cannot wallow in it or it will swallow us up.
If you’re weighed down by anxiety caused by guilt, make a clean break. If possible, make amends to the one you hurt. Just blurt out “I’m sorry!” and see where it goes.
And that goes for our heavenly Father as well. Just blurt out “I’m sorry!” You might hear Him say, “I know what happened. I was watching the whole thing take place. I saw how shocked you were and I’ve already forgiven you. I’ve just be waiting to see how long you would let yourself be a slave.”
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Guilt puts you on a treadmill. You’re constantly working and struggling and sweating, but you don’t move forward.