Written by: Sarah Walker
I know that I am forgiven of all my sin. I whole-heartedly believe this. But, then there are days where I relive the mistakes of my past and I feel regret and shame overtake my heart and mind once again.
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
It seems to me that Satan knows my weak spots and every once and a while I am haunted with memories of the past, and I begin to believe that I am a failure and that I am not worthy. When I start to look inward at myself, it is easy to believe these lies, and my confidence in who God has created me to be seems to go missing.
I was having one of these days where I was struggling with my thoughts, and I just could not seem to shake them. Thankfully, that day I had prearranged for a baby sitter to watch my kids so that I could attend a Sunday evening worship service at my church. From the moment the first song began, I put my attention on Jesus. As I sang along with the lyrics from Kari Jobe’s song “Holy Spirit”, something inside of me seemed to come awake:
I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord
It was in that moment as I worshiped that I realized I really was free! All those thoughts I had been struggling with had disappeared as I put my focus on my God.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame. (Psalm 35:5)
In John chapter 4 there is a story of Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. In this meeting, Jesus breaks commonly accepted cultural boundaries of the time by talking to someone who was ethnically different, who was a women and who was an obvious “sinner.” He accepts her as she is, and shares with her who He is. It’s a beautiful story of God’s love and grace for all people. Whatever your race, gender or sinful past, God is wanting to meet you exactly where you are today!
This poor woman had been married 5 times, and was divorced 5 times. At that time in history, husbands could divorce their wives for any reason. The reasons she had been divorced are not recorded, but I can only imagine the heartbreak and low self-esteem she must have carried after being rejected 5 times from men who vowed to love her forever. As well, she was now “living in sin” with a sixth man who she was not married to. I cannot fathom the shame and humiliation this woman must have lived through each day. Hearing of someone who has been divorced 5 times in today’s culture is still likely a bit shocking! I imagine she was often the topic of gossip and rude comments. It was no wonder that she was all alone at the well that day.
But once she had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus, where He shared who He is with her, she did not hesitate to run back to the very people who knew her and her mistakes, and she told them all about Jesus and what He had told her. She shared with them her testimony, and because of this, many people became believers!
It’s amazing how just putting our focus on Jesus can take away our shame and guilt. Not only do our burdens become lighter, but He uses us and our mistakes to do incredible things for His glory. There is incredible power in even the simplest encounters with God. Not only was the woman’s shame undone in that moment, but she was bold and confident enough to be a witness to those around her. The Samaritan women is just another reminder that God can use our unlikely failures to do great things. When my mistakes start to weigh me down I just need to remember that I have a Saviour who forgives me, delights in me and has a plan to use my life for His glory!