(you will have to pause the blog music to hear the above video)
When I first heard this song "Come As You Are" by Pocket Full of Rocks, the kids and I were driving home from the gym and I had to literally pull over. It was so touching because it was like a direct link from God speaking to me on the very same issue that Kevin and I had been discussing many times in the recent weeks.
I thought of the song again yesterday while I was listening to week 3 of 4 of our sermon series "Waste Management". As I've sat down to write this blog, anything and everything has gone wrong to prevent it from happening. It must mean that Satan REALLY doesn't want me to write about God's truth. Good thing I'm stubborn!
One of the first questions posed yesterday was if there was something still left in our "closet" that we were still unwilling to address or holding us back. Ummm....yes. What I wasn't expecting was that the MAIN thing still left in my closet was the ONE thing that JP was going to spend the next 20 minutes talking about. Guilt and shame are HUGE stumbling blocks for me and it did my heart GOOD to hear God's truth about it.
Guilt CAN be good. It can cause me to pause and say something isn't right about what I'm doing, what I'm saying, what I'm watching, or how I'm acting. Guilt can keep us in check and serve as our radar when I begin to walk down a wrong path or when sin is present in my life. In that regards, guilt is EXCELLENT.
Guilt becomes a huge stumbling block when it is unresolved. It becomes a haunting experience. We get wrapped up in it and it becomes suffocating. It causes me to have separation from God's blessings because I feel like there is such a huge gap that I can't connect with Him. Praying feels "off", worship feels empty, and studying God's word feels pointless. Kevin and I talk often of how we get to the point of feeling so unworthy to be in God's presence that it is just much easier to run as far from Him as we can. His purity and greatness just illuminates our darkness. Truth is that is a lie that we are allowing Satan to tell us.
As pointed out yesterday, that is Satan getting victory. The Bible describes Satan as our accuser and his greatest weapon against us is shame. Once he can get us so wrapped up in our shame, he becomes victorious because we forget who we are in Christ.
Guilt from God's perspective: (G)od's (U)nigue (I)ntentional (L)oving (T)reatment.
Guilt from Satan's perspective: (G)rief (U)nited (I)n (L)ifelong (T)orment.
Because of Christ, we have GRACE! Satan wraps us up in Shame. Shame says you're defective and messed up. Grace says in your defectiveness you are PRICELESS to me! Shame says the opinion of others matter. Grace says that only God's perspective matters and that brings freedom from shame. Shame says we are unacceptable. Grace says we are covered in unconditional love and and find TRUE complete acceptance.
He used an illustration that really "got" me even though it was sport related. He talked about a basketball player that was drafted for a team and spent many years playing for that team. He became familiar with all the ins and outs of playing for that team and living in that town. His surroundings became HOME and his comfort zone. Then the day came that he was traded. Everything instantly changed. He was no longer a small town player. He was now on a championship winning team. Victory was practically guaranteed. He was going to at some point in the near future be a champion. Anyone knows that it would be ridiculous for him to go back to his old life. He would NEVER win a victory and would never be in the spotlight. Nothing would ever make sense for him to go back to that small town team.
Our lives are like that. We are traded to a new team when we become a follower of Christ. Victory is guaranteed. We are bought with a price. NOTHING should cause us to turn back. Under no circumstance, should we gravitate back to that old life. Our old life is one of destruction and darkness, our new life is one of victory and light.
God doesn't take that healthy guilt and turn it into shame. He covers us in grace and unconditional love. Just as the song above says, COME AS YOU ARE. He isn't waiting for us to be perfect. He's not mad at us or disappointed in us. He JUST loves us and wants nothing more than He isn't waiting for us to collapse under the weight of shame. He is just waiting for us to come to Him, not in perfection and shame. He doesn't stand over us in disappointment. He stands over us with unconditional love and with His arms open wide.
2 Corinthians 5:16 tells us that the old life is gone; a new life has begun. When God takes our "bags" of garbage from cleaning out our "closets", He doesn't just lightly toss it to the side or keep it close by to rub in our faces when we mess up again. He takes those bags and throws them with GUSTO. They are out of reach....as far as the east is from the west. WE are the ones that keep picking those bags back up and dragging them back in our closets, some times a piece at a time and some times we bring up the whole entire bag and drag it back in. God gives us the freedom to leave these bags of "trash" if we would just trust Him. He doesn't want us to carry around shame. He doesn't want me bogged down in my own mistakes and failures that I can't see what He is offering me. He doesn't want me feeling so unworthy that I can't be in communication with Him or I allow a distance between us. He wants me to remember that the "old" is gone and the "new" is here. He truly gives us the freedom of fresh starts and new beginnings. It doesn't matter if I've messed up on the same thing 100's of times. We aren't defined by our past mistakes, failures and sins. What defines us is what we do from this point on.