“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” Psalm 34:5 NLT The shadow of shame followed him like a dog on a leash reluctant to walk.
Vinny grew up in a home where religious rules were forced down his throat like a nasty medicine. For his first fourteen years, he could do nothing about his situation-other than stew on the inside. At fifteen, a driver’s license and a new car gave him the freedom he wanted. Add a few rowdy friends, and his course of rebellion was set.
Vinny’s road of rebellion began with smoking and drinking. School was merely a place to hang out when he’d missed too many days to stay out again. The habits soon led to acts of vandalism. Acts that could have landed him in jail-or at least caused him to do community service and pay a large fine-had he been caught.
By the time Vinny was sixteen, he had more than a few notches of rebellion in his belt. But he wasn’t really proud of them. His parents and others had taught him better. The day came when he confessed all his mess and turned his life around, but the shadow of shame remained.
Vinny wondered whether God could still use him. No one except his friends knew all he had done. On Sundays, he appeared to be a normal teenager. The perfect preacher’s kid. It wasn’t until some years later that he came to understand the full and complete forgiveness of Christ and moved beyond his past.
I can identify with Vinny. I, too, have things in my past I’m not proud of. At one time, they held me back. I wondered if God could use someone with a sordid past. But like the psalmist, I looked to God, and He removed the shadow of shame.
I remembered the verse that said those in Christ were new creatures whose old things had passed away. And the one that reminded me I was no longer under condemnation. And the one that said confession brings forgiveness and a renewed relationship with Christ. I looked at the many seedy characters in the Bible who God chose to use despite their shameful pasts. I began looking to God and stopped listening to Satan who said the shadow of shame made me useless. Shame became just a shadow with no substance.
Don’t let the shadow of shame keep you from serving Christ in the present.
Martin Wiles Hodges, South Carolina, USA