The memories play on repeat. The shame weighs heavy. How can it be? There is this grace that pours down like sweet rain. Will I dance in it or will I run from it? Will I see that it’s running into grace that wipes shame away or will I let shame whisper it’s lies to me?
If anyone had reason to feel shame it was Paul. Here was a man who persecuted Christ’s church. His hands were covered with blood and righteously he justified his actions. But then Christ intervened. In order for Paul to see, he had to be made blind. And in his physical blindness, God set him free from his heart blindness.
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:12-14
But instead of letting shame stop his witness, he used his past to bring glory to God. Paul didn’t try to pretend it away by never making references to it. He knew exactly what he was before grace rained down on him.
He called himself vile names: persecutor, insolent opponent, and blasphemer.
Do you call yourself names? Do you call yourself cheater, abuser, failure, or not enough?
Stop trying to convince yourself you’re not those things. You are. But you’re also redeemed. Shame keeps you locked into your past, but Christ in his grace and mercy came to set you free from shame. Don’t pretend you didn’t need Christ. Use what you were to point others to Jesus.
You once loved nothing more than to share the latest juiciest bit of news? Christ set you free. Talk about him. Talk about how he changed your words and showed you how to build others up. Share your struggles.
There’s no shame in having struggles. It’s the hiding of them that causes shame.
You took a knife to your own skin because you couldn’t bear the internal pain anymore? Christ set you free. He gave you hope. Share that hope with others. Your soul’s enemy plays on your shame to keep you from sharing your hope.
It’s because you recognized that you sin that you realized you need Jesus. Jesus came to save the lost. It’s okay to own your lostness, and it’s okay to talk about what you once were. Let God redeem your past. You can say you were a slanderer and gossip, but that Christ set you free. It’s okay to say that you despaired so deeply that you cut yourself, but that Christ became your hope.
Your sin and Christ’s grace collide to create this most beautiful expression of life. But it doesn’t stop there. It becomes this dance of remembering your past while embracing your present identity in Jesus.
That’s what makes your testimony powerful.
Jesus road into Jerusalem ready to conquer your sin and shame. Take a few moments to ponder what you would be without Christ.
Listen to this song and let the words become your own heart’s cry.
Then stretch your arms wide (for real, stretch them, it’s okay) and say, “Holy God, here I am. Vile. Wretched. Selfish. Take my sin and shame. Pour your grace on me.”
Dance in grace’s rain. Let it wash your shame away.