Learning the unforced rhythms of grace

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Trust, Shame and Apples

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It is a bold thing to encourage someone to have faith.

“Trust God”, we say. “Wait on Him, let Him lead You.” We nod, pat them on the back and tell them a few reassuring stories. After all, that is the right thing to say isn’t it? Isn’t that God’s desire for us, that we trust Him?

This morning in church, all the kids were called up to the front for a prayer before they ran off to their kids’ church and the leader used the acronym FROG: Fully Relying On God, to describe their theme for the day. If my kids were little, I’d be happy for them to run off to that kind of class. It’s good. It’s right. It's biblical.

But you know what else is biblical? Shame.

Dan Allender, in his book “The Healing Path”, wrote a profound sentence about this. He said,

“Shame is the exposure of our foolishness to have trusted that another person would be true and good toward us.”

When we have been hurt, betrayed or suffered loss at the hand of someone whom we trusted, we feel shame. “How could I have been so stupid?” “I should have known better”, “Why didn’t I see that coming?” We blame ourselves, we feel exposed and embarrassed. We make quick decisions to never let that happen again.

I’ve often connected the concept of shame with the Genesis 3 account of God’s interaction with Adam and Eve. We’re probably all familiar with the outcome that says once they sinned, they felt shame. But this week, I was considering another angle to the story. I wonder if they felt shame before they sinned.

God told Adam and Eve what He wanted for their relationship in that beautiful garden of Eden. He set the ground rules, gave them freedom and told them to stay away from one tree. Just one. No problem. It seemed like a good arrangement and everyone was happy. “Trust me”, God was essentially saying by allowing there to be limitations.

The next scene of the story is where Satan appears as a snake and has a little chat with the woman.

Read Dan Allender’s quote again but with Eve as it’s subject. “Shame is the exposure of Eve’s foolishness to have trusted that God would be true and good toward her.” She’s been walking around the garden of Eden, avoiding this one tree out of her love and trust of God. She gave the tree a wide berth in order to get around it and quite happily ate from other trees no matter how delicious those apples looked. Satan feeds her some lines about how God lied to her, and how God has been tricking her. Eve looks down at the thick, green lush grass near the tree that she has never walked near and feels kinda stupid. “Ya think?” Satan mocks. “You’ve been lied to, fooled. Come on, you’re smarter than this, think about it, use your head!”

I imagine Eve’s face turning pink as she thought, “How could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I question God? Where is God anyways? I should have known better? I should’ve seen this coming? I am hungry for this apple. Why didn’t my husband do something? I’m never going to let this happen again.”

We’re not that different from Eve or her silent husband in the story. We have good days where we rest, work, trust and really believe that God is good and loving. We believe. We have faith and we’re ready to accept our limitations as something that God has allowed or permitted or given. We don’t understand, but we don’t need to. We trust.

But then we hear that mocking voice suggesting something different, something sinister, something that discredits God’s love. And when it comes from the enemy, it will be a message that is designed specifically to shame you and I where we are most vulnerable. Be aware, friends. Be attentive. And when shame starts creeping in, turn your face toward God and tell Him about it. Say the “Lord, I feel stupid - what’s that about?” prayer. Bring it into the light of God’s love and He will show you the truth of His love.

“Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!” 2 John 1:3

Heather HayashiComment