Where Does Jesus Stand in Our Moments of Shame?

by Mary Beth Powers

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” John 8:10 NKJV

In the story of the adulteress woman, can you imagine how afraid she was to answer for her sin in front of the religious leaders and Jesus?

I imagine her standing with her head bowed in shame after being dragged through the streets and into the temple. The religious leaders shouted accusingly, “Look what this woman has done! What will you do about this, Jesus?”

They were trying to trap Him. If He quoted Mosaic Law about punishment for adultery, the Romans would come after Him. If He failed to condemn her act, the Jews would go against Him. So he answered their clever ruse with a simple statement: “Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone!”

We use that verse to push back when we feel judged by others. But I find a bigger application, because I resonate with those feelings of shame.  

Some days I would just like to insert whatever failure I experienced that day into this Scripture. Things like words of condemnation I might have spoken over my spouse or the dismissing of a friend’s pain. Maybe even feeling sorry for myself. Some days I feel like a complete failure.

But I am certain I do not stand in my shame alone.

If I imagine myself standing in the presence of Jesus in my shame, what would he say to me? Because of his radical love, I imagine it would go something like this….

As we stand alone in the dirt, I am sure my feelings of inadequacy would rise in full force. I would feel exposed. Jesus would take off his cloak or robe and place it around me. I imagine standing in His shadow as He stands next to me. He will not leave me standing alone. He would stand with me. In those moments, close by His side, a feeling of safety would flood my soul.

“Like a shepherd, he tends his flock; he gathers up the lambs with his arm; he carries them close to his heart; he leads the ewes along” (Isaiah 40:11 NET).

This is not the first time God has wanted to cover us in our shame. Go back to the first time Adam and Eve mess up in the garden, and you will find Him covering them for the first time as they stood feeling exposed and in shame.  

“And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” Genesis 3:21 NLT

There are many times throughout His word He simply just wants to wrap His robe or yet his arms around us leaving with His peace, not shame. Jesus bore our shame on the cross. He covers us with His Righteousness is not the creator of shame.

It is our nature to want to hide from God, but we should never be afraid of standing before Jesus.

He does not dismiss the sin. It is in the presence of Jesus where our sin dissipates, and we become free of sin. Only through Jesus is where real forgiveness takes place.

The next time you feel shame in your sin try standing naked (vulnerable or humble) before Jesus and let Him cover you.

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NET

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Mary Beth speaks and writes with an open heart. She believes there is freedom in sharing our brokenness with each other. She loves to share her story of real heart transformation to freedom in Christ. Mary Beth and her husband are enjoying their new season of being first time grandparents.

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt the Lord’s presence during a shameful moment?

I Can Feel His Heartbeat

 by Nan Corbitt Allen

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart…                 
Isaiah 40:11 NIV

I remember the first time I heard my son’s heartbeat at an early prenatal appointment. It was music to my ears! I had waited for that moment for a long time, and it was pure joy to me and my husband. Then I became aware that my child was hearing my heartbeat, too.

I read about a mother who recorded her own heartbeat while she was pregnant and then periodically played it back to her newborn, so that he would feel she was always near and be comforted. It was not just any heartbeat either. It was hers!

Isaiah captured the metaphorical hearing of a heartbeat in the passage above. The picture of a shepherd gathering his lambs into his embrace reminds me that God holds me close to His heart. I can hear and feel His presence. Though I often want to wiggle out of His grasp, I love coming back and being held close, listening to His heartbeat again.

In that same chapter, Isaiah writes, “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40: 25-26 NIV).

My aunt had ten children in twenty years. She could, of course, name each child and his or her birthday. And even as she got older, she could name every grandchild, every great-grandchild, and every great-great grandchild along with their birthdays attached. Often at large family reunions, I would marvel at her ability to tell when someone was missing, and in knowing her circle was never complete without that one (or more) who was absent.

Jesus used the analogy of a flock of sheep and their shepherd in a parable: “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off” (Matthew 18: 12-13 NIV).

I remember singing this old song in church about the ninety-and-nine when I was young:

There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold
But one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold…

At times in my life I have sometimes felt like I was one of the ninety-nine He left behind while tending to someone else. I also wondered what would have happened if the 99 were attacked while He was gone—because they were left alone and vulnerable.

But just lately, I revisited this idea and rediscovered that Jesus’ parable DOES apply to me. I AM the one—as well as one of the 99. Sometimes still I wander away, and He brings me back (holding me next to His heart). Sometimes I feel just as secure grazing happily on the hillside. And I am reminded by the words of Peter: “…Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV).

TWEETABLE
I Can Feel His Heartbeat – Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: What thought about God encourages you the most?

Demystifying the Cinderella Syndrome

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

My father has affectionately called me his Cinderella for as long as I can remember. But my story, unlike the fairy-tale Cinderella, is not a tale of servant girl eventually living happily ever after with her prince. Rather it is a tale of experiencing brokenness to redemption, and living out the reality of being redeemed.

I don’t do it perfectly, or as Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12 NIV). I long to do the same, to live out my relationship with Jesus before the rest of the world.

Reflecting redemption can be challenging with the kind of noise that has been deafening as of late. It was really hard to not jump in and join the rants and raves on social media about the recent election. I read, listened, watched and prayed. Such division and hostility. It makes me sick and sad all at the same time.

Today was a fresh reminder of that as we had our windows worked on by two repairmen.  One had an accent, and I asked him where he was from. He hesitated and said he was originally from Mexico. As we began to talk, he shared with me how he loved his job, but recently he was sensing hate and fear from various clients. Lawns were littered with signs of campaign supporters that he knew were reproachful about his heritage. I sadly assured him that in my home, he was welcome to express his thoughts and opinions.

God is in the process of redeeming us even in the face of the noise and madness of our world. It is a manifestation of just how patient He really is. I actually struggle with God’s patience at times. And yet, I know it is a part of the narrative that is being written on His plan of redemption for the world.

I ask you, can we walk as redeemed people and practice the humility that Jesus lived? Can we, in our bantering back and forth, carefully choose to state our opinions with courage, and yet sprinkle them with kindness?

There is a line in the recent remake of Cinderella at the end of the story when the prince discovers his mystery princess and asks, “Who are you?”

She steps forward and says, “I am Cinderella, I’m no princess. I have no carriage, no parents, no dowry, and I don’t even know if that beautiful slipper will fit. But if it does, will you take me as I am?”

As I watched this scene, I envisioned presenting myself to the Prince of Heaven: Will you take me, as I am, each and every day?

He whispered in my soul throughout the rest of that day:

You are my treasure…Exodus 19:5, I rejoice over you with singing…Zephaniah 3:17. As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart…Isaiah 40:11. One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes…Revelation 21:3-4

This is the redemption God gives us through His son Jesus. We can offer nothing to Him but flaws and failings. He redeems us and creates in us a new life. We only have to be willing to admit our need. Our redemption then comes full circle as we wake up each day with confidence, believing that our lives matter and can make a difference to all we encounter. It really is a Cinderella story.

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When we turn to Jesus our Cinderella story always leads to happily-ever-after – @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: Do you have a favorite verse that speaks of God’s love for you?