Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day. (Joshua 5:9 NLT)
Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes you celebrate by killing the fattened calf! (Luke 15:30 NLT)
Relate: As a very young child, I took on the shame of the actions done to me by an uncle. As an adult, I learned that this shame I felt while I was too young to cope correctly had developed an insatiable need in me to prove I was worth something. This unhealthy coping mechanism failed me as I found that no amount of success could remove the sense of shame.
I took on shame for failure I could not control. After two miscarriages, I felt I was not capable as a woman and a wife. This, connected with the pain of other losses, led to my own shameful spiral into a place I am certain I will never return. How can I be certain I will never return to that place? The answer lies in the rolling away of my shame.
The Israelites had carried the shame caused by their fathers’ cowardice and failure to trust God. Their bodies wore the physical representation of their time in Egypt in that they had not been circumcised to mark themselves as the chosen people of God. Their fathers had undergone this ritual but had failed to take the land God was giving to them. Because of this, the Israelites lived in the desert as those still under the weight of Egypt. They did not live in the victory that had belonged to them. In order to move into victory, the next generation had to allow God to remove the shame caused by their fathers. Joshua and the men of Israel had to make a decision to follow God’s instructions in complete obedience. The text says that after they did this God rolled the shame of their slavery in Egypt away. It is then that they were able to eat the crops of Canaan and conquer the city of Jericho to enter the promised land.
In my own life, I had to decide to cut away the shame that was holding me back. Through prayer, an open heart for God’s unconditional love, and counseling, the shames in my life have been rolled away. Like the prodigal son who had squandered his money on prostitutes and eaten with pigs, I decided I could not stand to live in the filth of shame. I returned to the embrace of a heavenly father that celebrates me. I have no desire to return to eat with pigs when I can feast with a loving king and live in the victories planned for me.
React: Shame is something we feel for the actions we have done, actions done by those associated with us, or for actions done to us. Shame creates a barrier in our lives. Our shame prevents us from acting boldly. It causes us to hang our heads and live in the defeat of past failures (both our own and the failures of others).
God is not waiting for us to come to him so he can reprimand us, rub our noses in our mistakes, or remind us of the things that cause us shame. Instead, he wants to instruct us in how we can be free of the shame that holds us back. We have a God that wants to take us into the promised land and throw us spectacular parties. All we need to do is give him the opportunity.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come before you asking for your mercy and grace to come and fill the lives of those who are separated from you in this moment. I ask you to open their hearts so that they can feel your great love for them. Help them to see that their shame does not need to define them or hold them back any longer. God help them to see that you are waiting for them to make a decision to come to you and that you are ready to run to embrace them. Thank you for rolling away our shame. Amen.