There I lay, on my side, curled up as tightly as I could, facing the wall.
I had stuffed a pillow in my mouth and willed the sobs to quiet down so my roommate couldn’t hear me.
This was the first time I could remember being truly broken over my sin.
Pride shattered, I grappled with my own dark heart and weak will. And then the questions and doubts tumbled in:
How can God still love me?
There’s no way I can continue in close fellowship with Him after what I’ve done.
When people hear about this, I’ll be an embarrassment to the Christian community.
Jesus will be ashamed of me.
Down a dark spiral I fell, enclosed in darkness and despair.
There are many Bible verses that I feel were penned especially for me. They connect with me deeply, and I can’t help but take their message personally.
One of them, set to music by this Romanian band, occasionally comes to mind out of the blue, and causes me to stop and ponder whether God is trying to reach into my busy day and gently turn me toward Him:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
It was one of the verses that spoke to me on that dark night. The Truth of God was a balm to my soul and gently called me back to Him from the pit of despair. (I spent a lot of time in David’s psalms that season, as well as Lamentations and Job. In retrospect, I’m so grateful God included stories and songs that reflect negative emotions so we learn to engage them well.
The Bible isn’t just a happy book filled with happy verses; it’s a very real book filled with both joy and sorrow, celebration and lament, thanksgiving and angst. What a caring Father we have, that He would give us a guidebook even in those difficult seasons of life.)
And in time, the Holy Spirit brought me to this astonishing realization:
Jesus is not ashamed of my brokenness.
He is ashamed only of those who are ashamed of Him, who refuse to acknowledge their total dependence on Him, who pretend they have it all together and don’t ever struggle with sin or depression or despair.
God is big enough to handle my brokenness.
I don’t have to pretend to have it all together. I DON’T have it all together. And that’s exactly why Jesus came to die on the cross for my sins–BECAUSE I’m not okay and I need Him.
My shortcomings, my brokenness, and my weaknesses don’t embarrass God; they are exactly what qualify me for God’s love and grace.
That season of brokenness lasted a long time. I felt the dark night of my soul would never be lifted.
And then slowly, gently, the Spirit began to point toward the many verses in Scripture that celebrate sinners who recognize their need for Jesus, who turn from their self-sufficiency and fling themselves on the mercy of God. Like the tax-collector. Like the Samaritan woman. Like the criminal on the cross.
And here’s the shocking truth:
Far from being ashamed or embarrassed by your sin, God throws a party every time you turn from your sin and cling to the sacrifice of Jesus.
The angels party.
And Jesus lovingly envelops that sinner into His arms and says, “I’ve got you covered. Welcome home. Let’s rejoice together.”
- I’m Not Good Enough, But I’m Preapproved
- Good News for Idol Worshipers
- A Lenten Prayer: Pages from My Prayer Journal