Updated: Sep 18, 2021
If we’re honest, we’ve all chuckled at some of the unusual names in the Bible, as we hear a speaker mispronounce one, or we think of a humorous word it rhymes with or an amusing picture it brings to mind. One such word caught my attention, and my mind began to wander, as I heard the verse read aloud… (the words of the prophet Nehemiah), “Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono, (Nehemiah 6:1-2 NLT).
The Plain of Ono, pronounced “oh-no,” is a plain about 30 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s enemies tried several times to lure him there to take him captive, but he did not go. Try as I might to concentrate on the remaining verses Nehemiah wrote in chapter 6, my mind was stuck on the phrase “The Plain of Ono,” that had now become “The Plain of Oh-No!” to me. All I could think of were the many times I’ve moaned, “Oh no!” as I remembered an unpleasant or regrettable moment.
Think of all the “Oh No!” situations you’ve been in during your lifetime…
Oh no! The yellow light turned red as I floored it through the intersection?
Oh no! My shoes don’t match! Why did I dress in the dark this morning??
Oh no! Did I really wreck into a police car?
Oh no! I didn’t mean to send that text to them!
Oh no! The cat just vomited on my bed.
Oh no! They completely misunderstood me.
Oh no! That’s not toothpaste?
Oh no! My bank account is over…what??
Oh no! I accidentally pocket-dialed the pastor, and he heard me say what?
Some of these “Oh no!” moments are humorous, some have serious consequences, and some reflect carelessness. Some cause embarrassment, humiliation, guilt, or remorse. Rash, immature actions make us look foolish long after the “Oh no!” moment. Likewise, words spoken inappropriately can put us under a cloud of condemnation every time we rehearse them in our minds.
The most serious Plain of Oh No! offenses are those that grieve the Lord by our words and actions. When we knowingly sin against the Lord, the cloud of condemnation descends--often as soon as the words are out of our mouths, or the dastardly deed is done. When separated from God, we find ourselves buried deep in the Plain of Oh No!, and uneasiness settles into our hearts.
How we lament our careless, irresponsible “Oh no!” moments! We can actually take up residence in the Plain of Oh No! if guilt and regret remain unattended and are left to consume us. The Lord begins to feel distant, and the fellowship with Him is uncertain and strained. Adam and Eve lived in their Plain of Oh No! and suffered a painful physical and spiritual separation from the Father.
God has made a way of escape from the Plain of Oh No!, for He understands how crippling condemnation and guilt are. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, (Romans 8:1 NKJV). The regrettable things we say and do can be forgiven simply by talking to the Lord and asking for His forgiveness and help—for both the foolish things we do and the weightier, more grievous things.
He’s in the business of wiping our slates clean of guilt and condemnation as often as we ask it of Him, through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36 NIV). Whatever has caused you to be under a cloud of guilt—whether a silly, embarrassing “Oh No!” mishap or a deliberate act of sin against the Savior—take it to the Lord, ask His forgiveness, and allow Him to unburden you.
Like Nehemiah, you’ll escape the Plain of Oh No! and its prison. You’ll be free indeed!
©2021, Chris Werre