While it’s been quite some time, I remember the feeling well. The guilt. The shame. A label I never thought I would wear. DIVORCED. You can catch up on my story sometime, but last week I heard from a couple of you who have dedicated your life to Christ and you’re struggling with those feelings. What can you do when you need to break free?
Jesus has forgiven you. But you can’t seem to forgive yourself.
You want so desperately for the guilt and shame to be gone and you know Jesus has forgiven you. But you aren’t feeling the freedom God wants you to have. You feel bound by chains. You feel imprisoned. You feel like walls are closing in and you simply can’t seem to forgive yourself. You feel like you can’t move forward to obey God’s calling on your life because this, whatever it is, is holding you back, snagging every inch of your freedom to tell the world that you.have.been.forgiven.
Facing Guilt and Shame
Some of us who have no shame in telling someone the reason for our guilt. Maybe you are one of those and you feel like it can’t hurt to share it any more than it hurts to bear it. Perhaps you are someone who has held a secret from the past for so long that no one who knows you would ever guess that you, yes, you are capable of having performed this action or participated in this scene.
I don’t know what your particular issue might be. We all are sinners. But somehow we measure and weigh the problem, trying to capture it in tangible portions to process. Murder, abortion, addictions of all types. Hatred, gossip, or family relationships left barren and empty because of what he did or she said.
Years ago, for a long time, my guilt and shame was divorce. I felt that since I had grown in my faith, I should have been able to do more to make my first marriage work. I had a ton of why questions that wouldn’t go away. I felt ashamed that I brought divorce into my daughter’s life. I was disappointed that I had ruined my opportunity of “One man, one wife, for life.” The burden pressed on my soul and even when I was happily remarried, I felt embarrassed to have divorce as a part of my past for some time.
But oh we serve a God who is so much bigger than divorce. Or murder. Or hatred. Or estranged family members. Whatever is leaving you paralyzed, causing you to think that God forgives you but you still hate yourself? God wants to break that stronghold wide open.
Lazarus had been dead for three days when Jesus finally made it over to see the friend he loved. Mary and Martha sorrowed deeply and questioned…. Why had Jesus waited? He could have prevented this. The sickness, the burial, the tomb.
Maybe that’s your bitterness too.
Why did your brother have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Why is your baby sick?
Why did you go through divorce?
Why do you live with the label of “former prostitute?”
There is no tomb that God cannot open.
From the moment I heard the words above, I knew Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God (Bethany Trilogy (Quality)) would be life-changing for many. I can’t tell you how Joanna Weaver’s words have been freeing to my soul, reminding me that Jesus is calling me away from the graveclothes, away from the tomb, away from sin and the past. He is calling me to a new life in him.
Each day I have the choice to listen to Love call my name and draw closer to him. So do you. The question is: What first step will you take to begin the journey?
I’ll make a few suggestions. Get in God’s Word daily. Pray personally.
Maybe you could begin to stop thinking that God loves the world and begin to realize just how much he loves you.
This Bible study, Lazarus Awakening, will help you do just that.
I knew I had to share it with you.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!
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