"Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces."
Sometimes, it feels as though there are two of me, not completely unlike the cartoonish characters we've seen perched on characters' shoulders on television: an angelic version with wings and a halo on one side and a red-caped, pitchfork wielding version on the other.
If I ever looked and felt like the former version, it was on this day - and in this photograph. My best friend told me later, "You looked like an angel." And for the first, perhaps the only, time in my life, I felt like one. Not in the sense of having attained any kind of perfection, but in the sense of having felt so free of shame and true to the verse: so radiant with joy. I had looked to him for help, for rescue, and He had answered.
"He reached down from heaven and rescued me, he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy..." Psalm 18:17
I read a passage by Beth Moore once about how the enemy wants, more than anything, for us to feel the exact opposite of that shameless, radiant joy; his every scheme is designed to darken our faces - and our hearts - with shame; to make us feel as though we've fallen too far; that we are detrimentally unworthy, irretrievably broken, inherently unclean... "
"Satan so vehemently despises what Christ has done for mortals that one of his chief objectives is to make the clean feel unclean." - Beth MooreBecause when we feel unclean and ashamed, we feel that our testimony of faith is forever ruined.
But what if that is our testimony?
Because this is mine:
That He rescues us from our sin and our selfishness and ultimately, from ourselves - and not just once or twice or twelve hundred times... but endlessly, over and over and over again.
"This is real love--not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4:10Not that we loved Him.
But that He loved us.
That is our testimony, because that is the gospel. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
His faithfulness in the midst of our unfaithfulness. His relentless pursuit when we repeat our prodigal patterns of behavior. It is the proverbial story of my life: He knows us, all of us, inside and out. We can retreat into the dark corners of ourselves, deep into who we are at our core apart from him, but thank God, "even in the darkness, I cannot hide from you" (Psalm 139:12).
His mercies are new every morning. Because we need them to be. And He makes all things, even us, new. Over and over again.
Every time we fall, no matter how far, how hard or for how long - He heals our self-inflicted wounds, our scraped knees and wounded hearts - and He makes us new again, unashamed, radiant with joy.
He makes us clean.