I have not lived a pristine life. If you’ve read any of my blogs up to this point, you are aware of this, though not to the extent of reality because I have not been led to share the extent of it on this platform (at least not yet). The choices I’ve made in my life are disturbing, wicked, upsetting, contrary to God and His ways. I wish I could say that I’ve never done anything truly heinous, but that would depend entirely on who’s definition you’re using. In God’s dictionary, I have.
But I met a Man.
I’ve lived under shame, and have written about this several times so I know you know this. In the wretched and wicked wilderness I walked, I hid as much of my perversion as I could, patching over the torn covering and painting it up pretty so that no one would know what was underneath. In the times when I could be “free” to be myself, could let all my perversions out, I made sure to surround myself with those who were just as perverted as I was. Around others who did not share my perversions I was stilted, formal, removed, reserved. I was convicted, but refused to admit it.
Then I met a Man.
I have desperately tried to meet the needs of my heart, pulling from all directions, grasping and clutching any crumb I could find. Feeding the gaping mouth but unaware that the vessel had large holes and slow leaks so that nothing I put in it stayed.
Until I met a Man.
If someone had asked me what it would take to get me to turn back to Jesus two years ago, I would have said it was more than what I was prepared or willing to do. The hoops were too high, the cost too great, the sacrifices too overwhelming. I would be left with nothing, so it was far too much to ask. The shame I felt at my own stubborn sin was thick and sticky, and with no amount of work or washing could I free myself from it. Standing before the Righteous King was impossible, the dread of it was more than I could overcome. It was enough that I had eternal life, I wasn’t able to ask for more than that.
Never would I have imagined that being met by Someone who knew everything that I had ever done would be appealing. Never would I have imagined that acknowledging all my dark deeds, all my perverted sins, all my evil thoughts and prideful, wicked ways would be the one thing that I needed most.
I held back, even though I knew He was calling me. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, I hid when I heard Him coming. I was naked and ashamed, so I hid. Having read of the fall of man in Genesis, I think there is much left to be discovered in the sparse account. I can identify fully with Adam and Eve; we all can, for we all have sinned. But what of God? What did He feel? I think I have a glimmer of understanding now.
Because I met a Man.
I’ve read of the confrontation between God and His children, and all along I have borrowed their shame and defeat and magnified it. In the magnification I have minimized the love of the Creator. Even then, even there at the beginning, in the midst of the paradise He created, He made a way for His sinful children. He covered them. He covered for them, not by excusing them or their choices, but by making restitution Himself.
The shame I carried kept me from Him, the stubbornness a co-conspirator. Until I came face to face with Jesus the Christ.
I’ve written before about my Appointment Day, but excuse me as I write about it again. Sitting in my chair at 6:30 on a Monday morning, battling a raging hangover, emotionally drained, scarred, and defeated, I said to the One I knew was always listening that He was my only choice. I had tried everything else, and He was all I had left. I didn’t say that with any enthusiasm. I didn’t say it with anticipation. I didn’t say it with hope. I said it with defeat. With realism. From a position of utter despair. “I can’t do this anymore.” I acknowledged that my ability was never going to be enough. But it wasn’t with joy. It wasn’t jumping and knowing that He would catch me. It was just jumping. I was done trying and failing to do it on my own.
At that point of my life, I knew that even if I was to be subjected to constant shaming and condemnation, it was better than what I could produce on my own. Even though I had grown up in church and had been taught over and over that Jesus doesn’t condemn those who come to Him, I did not believe it. That’s just the truth. I didn’t believe it. I believed that there was a transaction of life for death, but the rest of it, the hope and joy and peace, was only for some. Maybe those who hadn’t strayed so far as I had. To be quite honest, I think at least subconsciously I thought that by giving Jesus a chance, any failure in the future would be His fault, not mine. And from my point of view that Monday morning, failure was inevitable.
But I met the Man.
I met the real Jesus. Not because I deserved to, but because I finally realized that I couldn’t get there by myself. I couldn’t fix my life. I couldn’t be happy. I couldn’t stop sinning. I couldn’t find peace. I couldn’t be right with God. But He could.
Friend, I need you to know that meeting the real Jesus transformed my life. Not just on the outside, but on the inside, where it counts. Reaching that point of utter defeat was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I think about the unnamed woman at the well. Shunned and dismissed, she met Jesus where she was, at the point of her defeat. She wasn’t looking for Him, but He knew where she was, and He met her there. He told her all that she had ever done. And she was happy about it. That’s counterintuitive to us, this race of people who long to hide their ugly. But that exposure, that uncovering, is the undoing and the making of us.
When I spoke to Him that Monday morning, He knew what was in my heart. He knew that I had reached the end of myself. And He knew that right there is where I had to get to be able to hear Him. The scriptures came alive for me. I experienced what I have read and failed to understand for all those years. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. He burned away the shame in the light of His love. He knew all that I had ever done and loved me anyway.
He, the only Righteous, Pure, and Holy One, took my shame upon Himself. He took it away from me. He did not and does not look at me through the lens of all my past deeds, my sinful heart and mind. All the past, all the sin, all the wickedness and wretchedness that I became, He acknowledged and then removed. It’s gone. I will never pay for that, I will never be held accountable for it, I will never have to give an answer for it. He covered me. And He does not blame me for it. No blame, no shame, no condemnation. The hidden came to light, and the Light burned it away.
I met the Man, Jesus.
If you are reading this and thinking that what I’m saying may be true for me, but you’ve done too much, you’ve gone too far, no one knows the evil that lives in your heart and if you were to admit it, you would be banished from the presence of the Righteous God for eternity, I hear you. But you’re wrong. He knows. He knows all that you’ve ever done, all that you are doing now, all that you plan to do, want to do, long to do. Rather than that knowledge being a barrier, it is the gateway to truth, to life. He will not shame you. He will not reject you because you are too sinful even for Him.
Before you lies the door to life. Don’t be afraid to walk through it and meet the Man who paid everything so that you don’t have to. His name is Jesus.