Goodness sakes alive! Have you ever done something so dumb; so utterly disgraceful that you never thought you’d be forgiven by someone else, let alone forgive yourself. I know that last one intimately. I am my own worst critic. Truthfully, it’s not a good quality because it’s really hard to celebrate a success because of this; I have to pick it all apart.
And we all do stupid and dumb things. And sometimes we convince ourselves that nobody saw, that the sin was in secret. But God sees all… For sure He saw me. And so did a lot of others I didn’t know were watching me. I’m sure it’s that way for you, too.
Such a bummer that we do such a disservice to God’s kingdom that way. I mean, after all, we are ambassadors for god’s kingdom. And when we mess up in a big way, especially if it’s publicly, it messes up our witness.
But see, here’s the thing. God gave us examples of this in the Bible. He gave us stories to know how He forgives, how He loves, how He chases after us when we are that one lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7).
Let’s start in Job. You remember good ole Job. He was a man of god and God bragged on him. So Satan asked to sift Job like wheat and God granted that request. Interestingly enough, I read a lesson recently that says that we can always thank god for attacks. Why? Because this means that God has bragged on you and He knows you’ll come out on the other side. That’s how He sees you, on the other side of this trial. And He’s as proud of you after the trial as He was before when He bragged about you!
So here we are in the middle of Job’s appalling set of trials when Job says this:
“If I am wicked, woe to me! And if I am righteous, I dare not lift up my head.
I am sated with disgrace and conscious of my misery.” Job 10:15
At this point, poor Job is even questioning whether he is actually wicked or not. Remember back then, they didn’t have Jesus, they didn’t have Messiah and normal things were attributed to living in sin.
And then in Psalm 139:5 it says, “You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.” Wow! What a thing to say after you have gone through your trial(s). (I have often found that trials come in groups or pairs.) And while I know this is out of context, I am using it that way because this shows that David, the writer of this particular Psalm, had been down in the dumps, just like Job. I love it that God gives us more than one example of lessons in His word.
For me, this verse coming up has always been a verse God gave to me after I finished my desert wandering. I was in the desert from about the age of 17 until he started chasing me in His love and mercy in my early thirties. Yes, that’s a long time in the wilderness. Yes, I did a ton of awful things. Yes, God has forgiven me, changed His mind about me and led me right back to where He wanted me to be at this time. Not only that, when god promises to restore twofold, He isn’t kidding, He actually does! So here’s my verse:
Psalm 3:3 “But You, oh Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.”
Wow, just WOW! God is the lifter of my head… and your head. He is also the shield around me. He is protecting me as if I am His adored and loved child. Have you ever seen a mom walking down the street and all of a sudden something happens and that mom senses danger. What does she do? She wraps her arms around that child of hers and places her body between him and the danger. She is the shield all around that precious little one. I picture this and wonder at the thought that Jesus loves me just like this. That He wraps me in His arms and protects me as my shield from danger. What an amazing thought!
And it’s the same for you. So if you are having a hard time forgiving yourself for something today. Or if you just needed to be reminded that you don’t have to walk in shame and condemnation, remember this: Jesus loves you. He is your shield and protector. And He lifts up your head.