It’s been a little while since you last visited. I almost didn’t recognize you.
The last time I saw you, we also ran into Fear, Inadequacy, Pain, Exhaustion, Stress and a few other friends of yours. I felt like I was trapped with all of you, and had no way out. You fooled me into thinking I had to stay at your “party”, that somehow yours was now the badge I had to wear.
One day I realized I didn’t like your party and I couldn’t stand your friends.
Maybe I finally had a good night of sleep; maybe I was just fed up with your cruelty, the way you made me feel.
I remember the day I said, “No more.”
It was as simple as opening the door to my house, and my heart, and kicking you out.
* * * * *
And now you’re back.
I know just how you came in. You piggy-backed in when Fear came by.
I’m not surprised; you two have been hand-in-hand for some time now.
Anyone working toward redemption, in any form, has to face their failures, their wrong-doings, their SIN, head on. It’s an ugly thing, sin. The realization of just how wrong we were, can be almost too much to bear.
How could we have been so wrong? How will we be able to make amends?
Shame, you’ve come around with a different friend from time to time. I have to tell you, I don’t like this friend. I can deal with Exhaustion, Pain, Inadequacy. They can get me down, they can get anyone down, but it’s not forever. And, I don’t think their efforts are designed to keep us down forever.
But this one – Judgment – he’s hard to figure. Sometimes he seems very real, other times I think I just perceive him to be around. Either way, he causes pain and he seems to incite fear.
Judgment shoves us right back into your corner, Shame.
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* * * * *
Here’s the thing, Shame:
You spend a lot of time making sure we feel badly. And you often succeed. You’re very good at how you manipulate our feelings.
But, it doesn’t matter what anyone knows about us. It doesn’t matter if they know the worst of our sins.
You need to know this:
Jesus paid a price for my sins – for all my sins.
He paid the price for everyone’s sins.
Not only that, but He took the guilt, the shame, the pain. He conquered those on the cross.
He conquered those on the cross.
I can choose to let you stay and hang out, or I can kick you out.
I don’t think I always realized that the choice was mine.
You had me fooled into thinking that my situation determined my feelings. So, a tough situation would mean that I had to deal with the tough feelings.
But, oh, Shame…
It hit me last night as I was doing my mundane evening routine.
The situations we find ourselves in give us choices.
We can hang out with the feelings we have – shame, fear, inadequacy, pain, grief, sorrow. And sometimes we have to do that. Sometimes we need to acknowledge where we are so we know where we need to go.
Then after we’ve determined where we are we can begin to look for the redemption.
* * * * *
You see, confessing our sins doesn’t lead to a lifetime of guilt and shame – as much as you’d like us to think it does, Shame.
No, confessing our sins turns us to God. We have to take our sins, our shame and guilt, our fear and face Jesus.
We have that time in our life where we first meet Jesus. We acknowledge our sin, our need for a Savior and we invite Jesus to be the Lord in our life. At that time, we are counted among the saved and redeemed. We belong to Jesus.
But we aren’t on our own. We aren’t sent to survive the rest of our days on our own.
And maybe that’s the best part of redemption – that we don’t have to continue through life in our own strength.
You see, Shame, you dangle my sins in front of my face. You mock me, you remind me that there is probably trouble around every turn. You point out my failures, the places I’ve fallen short. You remind me of all the shortcomings in life.
You spend so much effort in keeping my attention and you often succeed at making me feel very badly. You keep my face lowered – the ultimate posture of shame.
* * * * *
I hear my name being called, ever so quietly, peacefully. Is it you?
I lift my eyes up, questioning if this is some new way you are taunting me.
It isn’t you calling my name.
It is the only one who can save me, who has saved me. It is the Lord who has already paid the price for my life and continues to redeem each day of my life.
It is the voice of my Savior; my salvation draws near.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
* * * * *
The voice of salvation speaks softly.
It does not mock or taunt as you do, Shame.
It speaks peace to my heart and reignites the flame of joy in my heart.
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Those words – those right there – they remind me that I’m not going to be immune to trouble. I won’t get a free pass from trials and turmoil.
But I have the Lord who goes before me, who protects and guards around me, and who shields me from behind.
He has redeemed me.
He paid the price for my life.
He freely offered his life as payment for my sins.
He didn’t wait until I had my act together to love me.
He loved me in the depths of my wrongdoing.
At the time I most needed His mercy and grace, He extended His hand to take mine and to call me His.
* * * * *
I don’t want you here.
I do seem to learn a lot, though, when you come around – which is probably not your intent.
I learn how powerful your attacks can be. I learn just how much damage you can do. I realize you usually travel with friends and that while you may seem pretty innocent yourself, it may be that you cause some of the worst pain and damage because you bring your friends (Fear, Pain, Inadequacy, Exhaustion, Grief and others).
And then I hear the voice of my Redeemer, calling softly.
He never forces us to choose His way. He speaks softly, peacefully, calling gently to our soul.
He waits patiently for us to turn to Him.
And so now, Shame, I’ve heard Redemption calling me. I’ve heard my Savior call my name.
He promises rest, peace, help, a way out.
* * * * *
Just a turn toward Him is all it took.
Peace. Hope. Rest. Joy. Gentleness. Salvation.
It’s all there.
And the instant I realized that, an attitude of worship quickly flooded my soul.
* * * * *
Dear Shame, here’s the door.
You and your friends are leaving now.
I don’t need any of you hanging around.
You can’t do anything that will benefit my life, and you can’t offer me anything good that I don’t already have.
Most of all, you can’t offer me anything of eternal value. That has already been done.
You see, Jesus paid it all.
Jesus paid it ALL.
O Praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!