Away from Brexit, one particular story last Friday may have grabbed your attention. A flypast took place over a Sheffield park to honour 10 American airmen who died when their plane crashed in that park 75 years ago. This was all arranged following a ‘chance’ meeting between BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and a local man, Tony Foulds. Tony, who is now 82, was a young boy playing in that park and believes that the plane pilot deliberately steered away from him and his friends before the plane crashed. Whilst he originally thought the pilot was just waving to him, he believes the pilot was actually beckoning him and his friends to get out of the way to enable the plane to land. Tony has subsequently dedicated decades to looking after the park memorial to the airmen who died.
Very poignantly, Tony has stated “I have had a guilty conscience all my life”. He has effectively carried this guilt for some 75 years and has sought to ‘pay’ for it by caring so diligently for the memorial.
Do we carry around with us a guilty conscience? The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience” (10v22). He wants us to come to God, totally trusting and believing in the blood Jesus poured out on the cross, as He died to pay the price for our sin and guilt.
We can, therefore, be totally cleansed of a guilty conscience because of Jesus. Does this mean we are no longer ‘aware’ of our former guilt? I don’t believe so – indeed Paul talks in Romans 6v21 of “the things you are now ashamed of”. Yes, our guilt is forgiven – but we look forward to that coming day when all remembrance of guilt and sin will be gone in the new heaven and new earth. In the meanwhile, no wonder we are told to “take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6v17) to guard our minds.
Peace and Grace