“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame.” Psalm 34:5
When my sister was a toddler, she accompanied our dad (and our dog, Charlie) to the veterinarian’s office. While they waited, a man entered with a Great Dane. The dog was enormous — much larger than my sister — but very kind. He leaned his giant face close to Stacie’s to say hello, but she pulled back in fear.
“Rufus!” his owner scolded softly. “You scared that little girl!” A remorseful Rufus dropped his head between his paws. He felt terrible.
Shame is a powerful thing.
Rufus, I feel your pain, buddy.
I, too, sometimes drop my head in shame. I cower in insecurity, in fear, in the oppressive feeling that I’m not enough. I hold others at arm’s length to avoid vulnerability — so they won’t see my imperfections — while I work to earn their approval and my worth. I hide my gifts and calling, and hang my head — metaphorically and literally — because shame is a powerful thing.
But shame is never from God, and condemning words aren’t His voice. God doesn’t lower my head — He lifts it!
Last week, I wrote three large letters on a post-it note, and stuck it by my desk. “HHH” reminded me of a passage in Leviticus:
I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you.
I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt
so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians;
I broke the bars of your yoke
and enabled you to walk with heads held high. (Leviticus 26:11-13)
Heads held high! HHH. Since God Himself dwells within me — since His very presence is closer than my next breath — how can I be insecure or afraid? If He is my God and I belong to Him, why, then, should I seek man’s praise? Why do I compare myself to others, instead of finding myself in Him? And since God has set me free … from sin, from oppression, from death, from myself … why don’t I walk in the abundant life that He died to give?
He has broken the bars of my yoke!
He has set me free from shame.
And — HHH! — He enables me to walk with head held high.