On this particular day, our family dog was not glad to see us when we got home. She slunk away. And then we figured out why: she had left a special present for us behind the couch, and she was ashamed.
Shame drains the fun out of a relationship, and it is a prayer killer too. How can you come to the Lord and pretend that everything’s fine when you know things aren’t? How can you ask for things when you’ve been ignoring him? How can you say “I’m sorry” when you are still doing the things you know are wrong? Shame paralyzes us spiritually, and that’s just fine with Satan, who keenly enjoys putting his foot on our necks when we’re down. What to do?
The key is not to try to do this on your own. You can’t clean up your own messes any more than a dog can get urine out of a rug. When you are feeling ashamed before God, call on his mercy: “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you” (Psalm 86:5). Let your starting point be the steady love that comes from God’s heart, not yours.
It is the gospel that alone can wash away the guilt of your foolish past. It is the gospel alone that breaks Satan’s grip on our willpower. And it is the gospel alone that gives us incentive and power to make the life changes we know we need to make.