John 18 tells of all the times when Peter denied Jesus. Not super moves on his part and not anything Peter was proud of. He clearly felt the weight of his betrayal and decided his best course of action was to go back to fishing. He was done with this “fisher of men” thing. He had blown it. Three times in front of a large studio audience.
Have you been there? You’re trying something new, and you know you’re on the right track. It’s awkward and you’re shaky using these new muscles but you can tell you’re going to be the good kind of sore afterward. For me, it’s been getting back to a healthy weight. I’m not trying to be Kate Moss here, just the Emily that fits into Emily’s jeans.
I am a nurse so I know that eating all-the-cheese-in-the-house every night is not part of my “get to a healthy weight” plan. I also know if I’m supposed to do everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and I’m eating chocolate chip cookies until I feel sick, I‘m not hitting the mark. But then WHY when I feel like I’m messing everything up do I make it even worse by eating all the bacon and eggs I have?
I know why. It’s shame.
I recently heard a sermon on shame that stopped me in my tracks. You can watch it here. It picks up right where Peter has decided to throw in the towel. The sermon had three points and I’m not much for reinventing the wheel so here goes:
- Jesus pursues us in our shame
When I’ve had a terrible horrible no good very bad day at the office (i.e. my house) I really struggle to get alone with God. I’d rather avoid Him because I know I am messing up my kids a little each day even though I couldn’t love them more, and I couldn’t be trying harder. In my mind God is disappointed with me and, in shame, I avoid Him and make a beeline for the block of sharp cheddar.
But God pursues us in our “yuck.” We know this because He came after Peter. When we think we’re no good for God, and that’s when Jesus comes and, if we let him, He reminds us of our true identity.
- He restores us from our shame
When we carry around shame we can’t have intimacy. Any experience you’ve had of betrayal is evidence of that. Things are broken and won’t be made right until the shameful thing is dealt with. Good news though! Jesus is in the business of restoration. He’s like the Bob Vila of relationships. He already knows about our shame. He has already paid for our shame. We might as well come out of hiding and let him restore our broken places.
- He replaces shame with purpose
His heart is FOR you. He is calling you to move past the same into a place of purpose. All of our purposes look different but we all definitely have one.
Shame almost made Peter leave the church. He was heading back to his old ways because he thought he had made too large a mess of things. It’s the same with us. If we hold on to the shame in our lives, it changes our trajectory. We can see from Peter’s example that the purpose God has for us affects more than just us. If I continue to eat things that make me feel badly, I (logically) feel badly which affects the way I care for others around me. My temper is shorter and don’t even TRY to talk to me when I’m in my closet attempting to cram myself into my clothes. It’s funny but also really sad in the moment. I do a lot of crying in the closet. Shame over our bad choices takes up precious mental space. I tell myself terrible things and that brings me all kinds of down. That’s not living. That’s not freedom.
So your issue might not be every conceivable variety of cheese like mine, but if there is something you are feeling shame about please consider the fact that you are being pursued in the middle of your mess by a Restorer who longs for intimacy with you and who replaces shame with purpose if you’ll let Him.
Which of these truths did you need to hear today?