Tag Archives: guilt

I feel so ashamed…

A friend in recovery, who was, like me, once in a professional ministry position, shared with me today how he’s struggling with some feelings of guilt and shame over letting people down whom he once worked with.   I could certainly relate.

If you have ever been a spiritual leader of any sort, the shame that follows a relapse is immense in and of itself.   Add to that the loss of that job, that position, that “calling,” and the knowledge that you’ve disappointed and even hurt so many, and that shame becomes crushing.

As he was speaking an image filled my spirit which I believe was from God.   It was a picture of Jesus’ disciples huddled together in a dark, locked room following his crucifixion.    During these dark days they all fled from the side of their friend.   I could feel their pain and shame over their hiding.   I could hear them saying to each other and to themselves a number of things, such as

  • How could I desert him like that?
  • Was all that time spent with him for nothing?
  • Just weeks ago I felt on top of the world, like my life had purpose and meaning, but now…?
  • I failed miserably.  I’m obviously not meant to be part of anything important in the way Jesus was.
  • He picked the wrong person to be his friend
  • I’m a bad person

I’ve felt all of these things over the past few years.   These feelings still creep up on me from time to time, as they did my friend this morning.    Perhaps you feel them, too.

But do you remember what happens in that room full of doubt and fear and shame?   Jesus appears to these huddled together and his first words to them all are

Peace be with you.

Peace.  God comes to them, and to you and I and my friend this morning, and says “Peace.”   He knows very well all they and we have done and his greatest desire for us at the time of our greatest distress and shame is that we know peace.

And then, because he knows we may have misheard or misunderstood or mistrust his intent, he says it again.   But he adds something just as extraordinary:

Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.

What’s that, Jesus?   I’m sitting here in a dark room, locked away from the outside, ashamed of myself and my behavior, fearful that others will find me and expose me for the fraud I am, and fully aware of how at your greatest hour of need I scattered to save myself, and you still want me on your team?   You still see me as part of your Father’s plan?

I can’t comprehend the lavishness and indiscriminate grace of God most of the time but I am making progress when I can rest in it or be reminded of it some of the time.    This morning, because of a friend sharing his shame with me over the phone, I got a glimpse of it again and wanted to write it down.

Peace be with you.

 

 

I Killed Him

Due to illness we did not attend church this morning but had family worship at home.   Being Pentecost Sunday I read Acts 2 and we discussed the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.   But this post is not about that.   It’s about the conversation that took place because of my 8 year old son’s curiosity and fear over a confession I wrote in the margin of my bible.

I didn’t quite understand the worry in his face when I asked if anyone had any questions following our bible study.   Maddox looked as though he were about to cry as he pointed with a shaky finger to the words I scribbled in the margin…

I killed Him.

Image

“What does this mean, Daddy?”   The question opened up an opportunity, no doubt initiated by the Holy Spirit, to talk about something every Christian needs to remind themselves of often, for we so easily forget.

I killed Him.  It’s what I wrote in the margin of my Bible next to Peter’s sermon in Solomon’s Portico, where he is rehearsing once more the history of Israel and their guilt over murdering the Messiah.    Acts 3:14-15 reads,

But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of Life, whom God raised from the dead.

I killed Him.

At some point over the past year during my devotional reading the Spirit spoke those words to me, placing me there on the scene – at Pilate’s sham-of-a-trial, at the walk towards Golgatha, at the foot of Calvary – hissing and jeering the entire time, insisting that I will not allow anyone, not even God, get in the way of my own self-interests.

I was there, driving the nails through the hands and feet of the Author of Life, because my sin and shame made it His passion to let me.

I killed Him.

All of my betrayal, lust, selfishness, pride – all the pain it caused all those I thought I loved, all the depression, anger, loneliness, and despair  – was on his shoulders as I hoisted him up on the cross to die.

I killed Him.

It’s a heart-wrenching thing to realize, that you killed the Author of Life.   If you are so fortunate to have the Spirit whisk you away from your current place and set you down at the foot of the cross I assure you you will never be the same again.    When you see the weight of sin this Sinless One bore for you, for all the world, the veil is torn and religion dies, only to be replaced with what John Wesley called “a heart strangely warmed.”     Religion is replaced with holy passion and yearning, and sin – that which enslaved you the day before  – loses it’s deathly grip.

It’s easy to lay the blame elsewhere. It’s easy to watch the death of Jesus unfold like a bystander then rail against the social powers-that-be, the evils of society, the injustice of a fallen world.    I was once a pastor who was so wrapped up in the social sins I saw, in large part because I did not want to see the personal sins within.   Getting wrapped up in the social evils which make for good Facebook or Twitter fodder was far more appetizing (and crowd pleasing!) than sitting alone at the foot of Calvary, weeping over my own sin which put my Jesus there.

I don’t ever want to lose sight of the cross or my explicit hand in the whole bloody affair.   I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fact that Jesus was on that cross for me, dying for the very things that made me take a hammer to his hands.   I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fact that I killed Him.

And yet, amazingly, He still loves me.   What a Savior!