Recognizing My Own Rebellion


For I recognize my own rebellion, it haunts me day and night.  Psalm 51:3

Just before dawn three young men with machine guns burst into the hotel room of missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham.

It was the beginning of an ordeal that would leave Gracia a widow and bring her face to face with herself. That day in 2001, the Burnhams were kidnapped by guerillas in the southern Philippines. After over a year in captivity, Martin was killed in a rescue attempt that left Gracia wounded. Their story is told in Gracia’s book, In the Presence of Mine Enemies.

We may wonder how we’d react in crisis. Gracia is searingly honest about the person she became acquainted with: I “realized,” she wrote, “that when everything is stripped away from you and you have nothing, you find out what you really are down deep inside. What I was starting to see was not pretty.” “There was a Gracia I barely knew existed: fearful Gracia, selfish Gracia, bitter Gracia, angry-at-God Gracia. That wasn’t the only me, but it was a bigger part of me than I wanted to accept.”[1]

Gracia, and the rest of us, are in good company.  “For I recognize my own rebellion,” wrote David in Psalm 51, “it haunts me day and night” (Psalm 51:3).  Our rebellion may be a hidden attitude like that of the Prodigal’s older brother in Luke 15.

Thankfully, the return of a rebel is always celebrated by the Father. How our spiritual Father welcomes us! For the Lord, our God, “is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him” (2 Chronicles 30:9b).

[1] Burnham, Gracia. “Gracia Burnham Quotes (Author of in the Presence of My Enemies).” Goodreads, Goodreads,