“Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced.” // Isaiah 54:4
For many years, I carried deep shame from my youth. Intellectually, I knew the truth of God’s mercy, I believed it and proclaimed it for others, but I could not fully receive it for myself. Five years ago, I was preparing a talk for a senior retreat at our local high school. After thirty-five years of youth ministry, I had my talking points down.
However, an hour before I spoke, I clearly sensed God saying: “I want you to tell them specifically about your sinful, broken past. I want them to understand that nothing they have done can ever keep Me from loving them.” I balked at the thought of sharing my past with these students. Would they still respect me, think me a hypocrite? Would they see me as I often viewed myself—broken, unlovable, and unforgivable?
My love for these students and my desire to obey Jesus helped me overcome my fears and disgrace. I revealed what I had hidden for almost forty years and thought to be my “unforgivable sin.” Choking out the words, I forced myself to look directly at each of the young women I had mentored. In their expressions, I saw only compassion and love. As I finished my talk, the entire room stood in unison and applauded, and many students lined up to personally thank and hug me.
That night, as the Jubilee Year of Mercy ended, I walked out of my prison of shame with a profound sense of God’s personal redemption. I was finally able to see that sin nailed to the Cross, and the shame of my past no longer defined me.
Isaiah’s prophetic promises in today’s readings offer great hope to all who walk in darkness and live under the burden of shame. Our Creator and Maker now calls Himself Husband and He draws near to each of us with intimate love and tender care. Today, He invites you to step out of the places of hiding where you have felt lost, ashamed, and forsaken. Lift your head and raise a glad cry because Jesus, the Promised One of Israel, has come to rescue and restore you, to free you from the chains of sin and shame, and to establish a covenant of lasting peace with you.
Join me today. Step into freedom. It is never too late.Step into freedom. // Debra Herbeck Click To Tweet