The Father Who Eliminates Shame
It was a rainy Saturday afternoon. I sent my college roommates to the dining hall without me because I wanted the dorm room to myself while I made a certain phone call. I dialed the number, heard the familiar voice. Then in a matter of moments, I severed a relationship that had been pulling me away from God for quite some time. I hung up the phone and had a good cry.
When God Seems Distant
It was obvious that God was working on my heart. I felt miserable about my sin, and I had a fresh desire to please Him. But God seemed so distant. I tried reading my Bible, but it said nothing to me. I tried praying, but my prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling. So now I was trying this—the severing-a-relationship-thing. Though I knew it was the right choice, it didn’t change how alone and melancholy I felt. As I sat on my bed wondering what to do next, the phone rang. It was the campus pastor. He wondered if I could come down and receive a package being delivered to the back door of my dorm. Curious, I ran down to the lobby just in time to see a car pull up. A man got out and ran toward me in the rain. Squinting, I gasped and opened the door. “Daddy?” I exclaimed as he gathered me into a hug.
My parents lived in Michigan, which is twelve hours from Liberty University in Virginia. So my dad didn’t just “happen to be in the neighborhood.” He had dropped everything to fly down and see me. I think he sensed this was a pivotal time in my faith journey.
A few weeks prior, when I was home on break, God had torn the lid off of some of my sin. I felt so exposed and ashamed. I had said to my mom, “Don’t tell Dad till after I’m back at school.” I didn’t want to think about him knowing. I wanted to pretend that he didn’t.
But my dad did know. And he flew all the way to Virginia to tell me that he still loved me.
“Mom bought you a new dress,” he said, handing me a package. “Go put it on, and I’ll take you out for a nice dinner.”
That night, after dinner, I sat in the car with my dad. He read some verses to me from Revelation 4 about the people from the church in Ephesus who had “lost their first love” for Jesus. Boy, did that describe me!
As a child I had been so passionate about Jesus—telling whomever would listen about sin and hell and how Jesus wanted to save us from it. As a middle schooler, I was involved in every single program our church had to offer. Yet somewhere along the line, I had drifted away. I had lost my first love for Jesus, just like the church described in Revelation 4.
My dad showed me the instructions given to the church of Ephesus: “Remember therefore, from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Rev. 2:5). He said that these instructions were for me, too. I needed to remember where I had fallen from. I needed to begin doing the things I did when I was first in love with Jesus. This was the way to repent! I shouldn’t wait for emotions or swelling love to guide my actions. The emotions would trail behind my behavior.
A Loving Father
That weekend was a turning point for me. I had taken a big step of obedience to God with that phone call, and then the phone rang again. God was responding with a message of love and acceptance, not shame and condemnation. His messenger was my dad, who represented Him so well!
I don’t know what your dad is like. I’ve lived long enough to realize how fortunate I am to have a dad like mine, but I know not every father is like him. Yet even if your dad was the type to neglect, abuse, or abandon, you have a Father who wants to make up for his lack.
God, the perfect Father, says:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jer. 31:3).
How has God faithfully shown His love? It started with a journey that cost Him far more than a weekend and airfare.
- God loved you enough to send His Son as messenger from heaven to earth—not to condemn you for your sin, but to save you from it (John 3:16–17).
- Jesus demonstrated God’s love in this way: while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Rom. 5:8).
- Jesus bore your shame—despising it with every step toward the cross—all because He wanted to win for you a new dress to wear, a new, white, pure dress made of His own righteousness (Isa. 61:10).
- And now, in response to His love, God invites you to behave like a bride, getting ready for her Bridegroom (Rev. 19:7).
Has God seen your sin? Yes, every bit of it. You might not want to think about that. You might want to pretend He doesn’t know. But the truth is that every hidden thing is laid open and exposed before your Father in heaven (Heb. 4:13).
So how is a good daughter to respond? Should she cower and hide and self-loathe? Never! Your Father invites you to conviction and sorrow over your sin, but not shame. Never shame. God is the one who has done everything to eliminate your shame! It’s His enemy who hurls condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
A Pursuing Father
God is the type of Father who never wants His daughter to doubt His love. He pursues you. He travels the distance between you. He assures you. He says that nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38–39).
Why not spend some time with the Father who has loved you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3)? Repent of your sin, and draw near to Him. Remind yourself of the ways His pursuing love has shaped your story.
Does God seem distant to you? Do you feel ashamed over exposed sin? Are you pretending that God can’t see your sin? Your Father loves you with an everlasting, faithful love. What truth about your Father will you embrace today?
By Shannon Popkin