Maybe you were like me? There was a time when I felt as if a giant finger straight from hell was pointing at me, while an accusing voice was screaming, “Shame on you!”
The voice was haunting, and I felt the weight of all the sins I had committed in my life. I had to agree, “Shame on me!” It created a plethora of negative feelings. There was shame, guilt, regret, fear, doubt.
Honestly, if you felt the same at times like that, you would do anything you could to hide and bury those feelings, just to forget and have a few moments of peace. That was because there was an accuser who made you feel hopeless. That’s how I felt.
Then the greatest thing I could ever imagine happened. Jesus sent his love. His love came in the form of people who had the biggest smiles on their faces. They resonated joy, happiness, and, best of all, they were pain free. A wonderful pastor with a great smile and a heart so big often hugged this little boy. He would kneel at an altar and pray with me. Slowly, the shame, guilt, regrets, fears and doubts left.
Something wonderful was birthing in me. It required people of God to make that happen. An accepting church family looked with joy upon my small frame. They patted me on the head and listened to me. During those years as a child, I began to sing those great old gospel songs.
My voice wasn’t very good, but that was OK. Our church building was just a basement with a flat roof on it. That didn’t matter. It was the people and the pastor that made the difference. I didn’t care about fancy buildings or great musicians.
As I grew up, something changed in that insecure little boy. I began to realize I had prayed, read the Bible and gone to church so often that the shame was gone. The guilt, regrets, insecurities, fears and doubts disappeared. In their place came a certain knowledge and faith. I no longer felt “Shame on me!” Instead came a new awareness. I grew to understand, I’m a child of the King … I am forgiven … I am clean from sin … Jesus thought I was worth dying for.
With this new awareness came the realization: There is no more shame on me. Satan is a liar. Then something else happened in my life – I could give the joy I felt away. I could help others sing with joy. I could give them Jesus.
So, I went to Bible college, and my wife and I have given 50 years and more of our lives to help people understand, you don’t have to give up in despair as a voice screams in your ear, “Shame on you!” Instead, we rejoice to tell you that the blood of Jesus will cleanse you from all shame, guilt, fear, regret and doubt. You can be clean from sin.
My advice to you? Find yourself a good church that believes in the Bible and Jesus Christ. Let those people love on you. Hear their stories, because we are all sinners saved by grace. I urge you to come to the reality, “Wow! These people were just like I am.”
There can be a day in your near future when you too can shout with joy, “There is no more shame in me, because Jesus has cleansed me by his precious blood.”
The Rev. Stan Rutkowski is pastor of Living Waters Church in Salida.