“I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
I went running this morning. And I had been on the internet before and seen a really stunning picture of a beautiful friend and the day previous I had seen pictures of myself that left me feeling really insecure…to put it simply, overweight. I was struggling with my body image as ‘Dawn Light’ by Zachary Bruno played and I began my first steps as the sun rose.
Shame. Insecurity. All those messy words that leave you feeling worthless, because all that matters is beauty, right? I mean, I know that’s not true, but sometimes my heart feels that way.
Feelings. Man, sometimes they seem like the only voices in one’s head and where to find reason in it all? God, breathe truth. Breathe freedom.
I prayed as I walked my warm-up. I feebly asked Him to give me His perspective, was trying to remember He made me the way I am, that the world puts too much value on beauty alone, oh yeah–and all that Chris, our teaching pastor, has been saying in Sunday School about Esther these recent Sundays? God mades us each exactly the way we are. Just like He had made Esther beautiful for a specific purpose.
Oh, but wait. What about the weight on my face, stomach, hips, and thighs that’s there due to my lack of self-control…my sin. What about the other things that leave me feeling worthless, dare I say it: ugly? Maybe for some girls, it’s what about the scars made on their skin by choice in deep pain? Or…add whatever it is for you.
It’s easy to remember God made me the way I am–fashioned and formed me in His perfect wisdom and as a Master Artist–but that whole thought process crashes when I realize my sin has made me the way I am too.
But then, I get home from my run, rest and stretch. Denying myself in those last steps…man, what a battle of the mind near the end of my workouts. That last mile I can be so whiny.
I sat down on the floor and decided to go to my shereadstruth app and read the Women in the Word: Old Testament devo of the day. Technically, it’s Day 4, but I read Day 2 because I’m behind. After the scripture passages for the day which were focused on Eve and the Redeemer who would come [take a moment and read…Genesis 1:27, 2:18-25, 3:1-24; Joel 2:26-27, Isaiah 53:11-12] the devotion opens with:
“What would it be like to live free from shame? Not in a way that denies the existence of the Lord’s commands, but in a way that receives the freedom of His mercy?”
I don’t think the message really sank in until I read farther down.
“Genesis 3:7 says, ‘Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked,’ so they made a covering for themselves to hide their nakedness. But all the fig leaves in Eden wouldn’t hid the sin in their souls. Adam and Eve were ashamed to be seen by God–they were ashamed of their sin.
“Shame is a powerful force. Like Satan himself, it tells us all kinds of lies. But isn’t it interesting: Satan has a way of making us feel less ashamed of our sin (the thing that separates us from God) and more ashamed of ourselves (the thing that links us to Him).
“When we face the world, we are ashamed of our image, God-given though it is.
“And when we face God, we are ashamed of our sin.”
I realized the shame about my body that has really been weighing on my heart is not so much shame of feeling unlovely or unbeautiful, but shame over my sin. Shame over how I have failed to responsibly care for that which God made in His image, also coupled with shame that that image then looks even less appealing to the world.
Oh, the mess of sin.
I was ashamed of my body and self-image, because I am ashamed of the sin that has made it what it is. And for some crazy reason, I hadn’t applied Gospel-grace to this specific area of my life.
“Jesus bore the shame of the whole world–including our Eve’s!–on the cross and took it to the grave with Him. He defeated sin and shame and death itself so we can be presented blameless and unashamed before the Father.
“The prophet Joel told of a time when God’s people would never again be put to shame [Joel 2:26-27]. Isaiah promised a sinless and shameless Man who would come bear our iniquities and transgressions [Isaiah 53:11-12]. Jesus closed the door on shame and opened the door to repentance and freedom!
“Yes, yes–we still absolutely need to cover our bodies in modesty-so everyone keep your clothes on! But sisters, hear this and never forget it: The door has been closed on shame for good. You never need to hide form God [as Eve did]. Repent and believe and be free from all the lies the world will tell you about not being smart enough or pretty enough, good enough or clean enough. No sin or even a lifetime of sin excluded us from the freedom the Cross of Jesus affords. Yes, we are undeserving of God’s rich mercy, but Jesus makes us deserving. His goodness alone makes us good enough….live as people who are FREE!” (Women in the Word: Old Testament, Day 2: Eve, Raechel Myers).
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefor, and do not submit to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Oh girls, in Christ, covered by His blood, we are free from the shame of sin. I can rejoice in how I am made, because He made me the way I am and even though sin has shaped some of that too, that sin is covered by redeeming grace and so I can rejoice in Him taking what should be death in my life, and making it a reason for me to draw near to Him. Because I am His, when He looks at that sin He sees Christ and therefore all of me is beautiful, forgiven, shame-free.
Being free of shame, does not mean continuing in sin. For me, it means I’m in a season (and I’m sure will be for the rest of my life!) of learning to exercise self-control–not just in areas of food and exercise, but in every area of my life. But in Christ, I don’t have to be ashamed of my body image–the exact ways God made me, and also the repercussions of my sin manifested in how I look–because Christ died for that. So every time I look at how sin has manifested itself on me, I can be reminded of a Savior who died for that sin and sets me free from condemnation, and be motivated all the more to obedience because I love Him and He loves me so. I can rejoice in Him making me fearfully and wonderfully because even the sin is fearfully and wonderfully redeemed and paid for.
His wounds paid my ransomed. So oh, dear hearts, let us live free from shame.
“Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the righteous One, my Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will dived Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sins of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:11-12).
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame” (Joel 2:26-27).
Never again be put to shame. Oh, what a glorious Christ.