Yesterday I wrote about a Moth podcast I listened to: the story of a young woman wrongfully convicted of a crime she did not commit and sentenced to 10-20 years in prison. What struck me about her story was the shame she carried for something she did not do and yet she was “branded” in the way others viewed her and the way she viewed herself. (If you have not read Part 1, please do.)
After 8 months in prison, Marie received a visit from her grandfather, the only family member to ever visit her. He told her that the only hope for her was to escape.
She was somewhat shocked at his statement. He further told her that, if she could escape, he would be waiting for her. Weeks later in the dark of early morning, she recognized the opportunity and climbed the fence, running as hard as she could down the road. Daylight began to seep into the area and, expecting helicopters any moment, she spotted her grandfather’s car at the edge of the woods. She jumped into the back seat and they sped away. She escaped with his help and entered into a new life, with a new name, in a new place. Let me stop there.
How many weeks had her grandfather driven to that spot and waited, not knowing when or even if she would ever escape? How long had he waited each day…he was there before daylight. Had he waited all night, perhaps all day as well, wondering if today would be the day she would discover the opportunity and make a run for it? Had he put aside all else in his life to wait…just in case the possibility came for her to escape? She mentions in her story what a risk it was for her grandfather to do what he did for her. She says that she owes so much to him for his statement that the only hope for her was to escape and then his willingness to wait for her and help her to do so.
And so it is with Jesus. Our only hope for truly escaping the stranglehold of shame is Jesus Christ. He tells us in John 14:6, I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Acts 4:12 clearly states–And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Just like this woman and her grandfather, Jesus tells us that He is the only way of escape. He knows the truth about us. He is the only one able to grant us a new life. There is no other way to be saved from our current sentence of shame without Him. For those of us who carry shame because of the conviction of things we have committed, let me assure you that you CAN escape. You do not have to be held captive for the rest of your life experiencing the punishment of what you have done and the shame associated with it. If you are not a Christ-follower, there is HOPE and that HOPE is Jesus Christ. He desires to be your salvation. He longs for you to be free from all wrongs you’ve committed and all wrongs committed against you. He is the only way, truth and life. If you are a Christ-follower, you have already entered into an exchange believing that Christ’s death on the cross was in exchange for your own. He took your penalty for you; He paid the price once and for all and you are free.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2, NLT)
Shame is sneaky though. Shame slips and slides around in our lives, whispering condemning words in our ears. Because we know we did actually commit the wrong, we are prone to listen to shame’s words and, the more we listen, we begin to believe the wrong things. What if someone knew what I had done? What if people actually saw me do the wrongful things I’ve done? What if my family finds out? Will they still love me? Will they reject me? Will my reputation be ruined? Will I lose my job? Will my life as I know it be over? The more we entertain these shameful thoughts and believe the lies, the more we begin to act as captives to the past and not as free people. We are afraid to admit our wrongs openly because shame has told us we will be rejected. Honestly, some people might turn if they knew the shameful thing that is holding you captive. However, Jesus has never and will never turn from you. He set you free. You are His and He says He will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:10-13, ESV)
Dear reader, shame has no hold on you that you do not allow. If you are a Christ-follower, Jesus has set you free from shame and its lies. Hiding only makes you feel like a slave to shame. Instead, make a run for it! Jump the fence and flee from shame. Jesus has been waiting and will continue to because He is your ride to freedom.
NB: Part Three will post tomorrow. If you are not a Christ-follower, please read tomorrow’s post. There will be a special message for you. To hear the podcast that prompted this post, go to http://themoth.org/posts/stories/a-tale-of-two-lives