The drinks you shouldn’t have had.
The gym you should have joined.
The presents you shouldn’t have bought and the debts you need to pay.
The relationships you need to rebuild, the boss you just can’t please, the kids you’re poisoning with fish fingers, the resolutions you’ve already broken, the recycling you should have taken out.
Some of it matters and some of it doesn’t, but it’s hard to tell the difference. I’m ashamed of my sin and I’m ashamed of my shoes.
I’m ashamed because I watch junk TV. I’m ashamed because the neighbours saw me in my pyjamas. I’m ashamed because I feel sad, despite having so much. I’m ashamed because I’m jealous of a friend’s success. I’m ashamed because I have spinach in my teeth. I’m ashamed because I want acceptance more than I want to share Jesus. I’m ashamed because my jumper is crumpled. Because my socks don’t match. Because I don’t know my bible. Because I can’t add up. Because my feet are too big. Because my life is too small.
Maybe shame is a part of life. Maybe that’s how God designed it. In our bones, like the writing in a stick of rock. Unavoidable. Unalterable. Maybe we’re born with it. Maybe nothing can take it away.
Two feet away, my daughter lies squealing on the rug. She’s just filled her nappy and her nose is running down her chin. Earlier, she got a finger stuck up her nose whilst we were shopping. Each time I moved it, she delightedly shoved it back. “Girl,” I thought, “have you no shame?” She burped at me and grinned.
Is it possible that we could be so liberated? That we can be utterly, unashamedly ourselves and not have to cover up?
The Bible says “yes.”
Not because we’ve nothing to be ashamed of; (the bible says we do).
Not because we hide our bad bits, (though they can be covered).
Not because we try harder, (hard work doesn’t deal with shame).
Not because of anything we have done or we can do. Because Jesus took our shame and He scorned it. He defeated it on the cross. He cast it out, to a place where it can’t reach. We can see it mouthing behind the glass. But now, it has no power. It’s outside of us.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7
There are two halves to this verse. First we look up to see the truth about ourselves:
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me I will not be disgraced…
I am a sinner; but the Lord is bigger than my sin. He gives me a future where “I will not be disgraced.” When I know this,
…I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
“Setting my face like flint” does not come naturally! What comes naturally is feeling like junk. But – because of God’s grace and His future I resolve to stand firm. I know I will not be put to shame in the end so I refuse to listen to its whispers now. To those who are ashamed, Jesus says, “stop trying to be worthy and know you are welcome. This shame is not on you: it’s on Me.”