When Shame Weighs You Down
“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me … Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead …” Philippians 3:12b,13b (NIV)
I sat on my back porch, wrapped in my fuzzy, worn robe. The birch tree leaves shivered in the cool morning crispness, and the daisies that slept beneath the soil through the winter stretched their faces to the sun.
Then I heard him. The rooster.
ER-er-ER-er-ERRRR. I’m not sure where he lives, but it’s within earshot.
ER-er-ER-er-ERRRR. I thought of Peter. I thought of me. I thought of you.
Maybe you know the story. On the night before Jesus went to the cross, He had a chat with his friend Peter. He referred to Peter in his pre-disciple-days name — Simon, as we read in Luke 22:31-34.
“‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’”
“But he replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’”
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’” (NIV)
A few hours later, Peter did deny he even knew Jesus. Three times. And then the rooster crowed. ER-er-ER-er ERRRR.
Peter went outside and wept bitterly. He cried and cried and cried. The next morning, the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered his failure. And the next, and the next and the next. And Peter remembered all over again.
I have been there. I have failed. I have cried and cried and cried. And I have remembered. Shame has poked drain holes in my Spirit-filled confidence, and I have hidden behind the wall with Peter. And even though I asked God to forgive me, and I knew He had, the rooster still crowed in my heart, and I remembered failing all over again. I wonder if you have too.
I have been stuck like a trapeze artist who refuses to let go of the first bar — trying desperately to take hold of grace, but not quite letting go of the shame.
And God calls to me … Let go. Move forward. Live bold. It’s the only way.
And Paul tells me how … “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me … Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead …” (Philippians 3:12b,13b).
And I see it clearly. For me and for you.
When we finally take hold of, grasp and make our own all that Jesus has already prepared for us, we begin to experience life to the full — the faith we’ve always longed for.
But taking hold of what’s new is not enough. We’ve got to let go of the past.
- Let go of shame-filled ponderings, and take hold of grace-filled pardon.
- Let go of crippling bitterness, and take hold of radical forgiveness.
- Let go of weak-kneed worry, and take hold of sure-footed confidence.
- Let go of insecurity, and take hold of our true identity as a child of God.
God has placed lavish promises in my heart. And letting go of shame and taking hold of grace is where it all begins.
What did Jesus say about Peter’s failure? Three strikes, you’re out? Hardly. Jesus removed the shroud of shame hanging from Peter’s guilt-weary shoulders and called him to get back to ministry.
Jesus does the same for me and for you, but the rooster still crows.
The question is, What will we remember when we hear that crow?
May I suggest, not the sin … but the grace.
Let’s not let the enemy accuse us of what God has already forgiven! Don’t let him fool us into thinking that Jesus’ death on the cross was not enough. Take hold of what Jesus has already taken hold of and place it in you.
Heavenly Father, thank You for forgiving me and removing my shame. I’m so sorry I listen to the rooster crowing in my heart — telling me I am guilty and shameful. I know what Jesus did for me on the cross is enough, and there’s nothing I need to do or can add to his sacrificial gift. Thank You for wiping away my sins and loving me unconditionally. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (NIV)
Psalm 34:5, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
In John 21:15-19. Why do you think Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me” three times?