Grace is Not Ashamed of You

ShameHands

Mephibosheth didn’t start out with such a horrible name to pronounce.  In fact, his father had given him a completely different name:  Meribaal.  While that doesn’t seem much better to us modern people with names like John and Sarah, in the ancient world these two names were worlds apart.

Meribaal meant “defeater of Baal,” who was a false god, an idol, worshipped by pagan nations.  His father, Jonathan had believed that his son had a great future before him.  Maybe he would one day sit on Israel’s throne as king, being the royal son of a prince of Israel.  Maybe Jonathan saw him defeating the armies of pagan nations and bringing down the false worship of a false god.  So he named his son with great potential and purpose.

But then Jonathan died in battle, and Meribaal was dropped by his nanny, ankles crushed, never to walk, let alone lead a nation.  Rushed into hiding, he is raised in obscurity by friends far from his home and his original purpose.  A new name is given to him, or maybe taken on by himself, we don’t know:  Mephibosheth.

This name brings a new meaning and with it a new definition of this man:  “breathing shame.”  How sad it is that the defeater of Baal should become one who is now simply breathing shame.

Shame in what we have done or what has been done to us can become a defining factor in our lives.  It can so consume us, if we listen to its lies, to the point we become named by it.  It becomes who we are.

I have met some of those people who will not look you in the eye for fear that you might see their shame.  It’s almost as if they introduce themselves as “Hello, I’m shame.”  And this is what Mephibosheth actually did every time he said or heard his name said.  Shame for what was, but could never be again.  Shame for failure, yet not his but still owned anyway.  Shame that his purpose and destiny now would never be what it was supposed to be.

Shame is a trap of the highest order.  It wraps it’s tendrils around our feet and says you can never be a good person, after what you have done.  It denies us access to the good things of life and God, for fear of other finding out our shameful secrets.  It tells us the God himself is ashamed of us, and keeps us from drawing near to the One who loves us in spite of what has been done to us or what we have done ourselves.

So we give up and allow ourselves to fall into other sin, deeper sin, because if we are already ashamed and separated from love why should we care what other sin we indulge in.  And then more shame arrives and the cycle begins again.

This is why what David did for Mephibosheth was so powerful.  He called him to the throne room, unashamed to have this crippled prince in his presence.  God calls you and I also to his presence.  Dirty, ashamed, worried, fearful, crippled…we are accepted into the King’s presence.

God is not ashamed of you.

Just as the prodigal’s father ran to him, putting his arms around him and kissing his face, probably dirty with the waste of the pigs still on it, God desires you and I to know that no shame can keep him away.  He knows what he has named us and that name cannot be destroyed no matter what mud we fling on it.

Grace is not ashamed of you, He gives you power to change, to heal, to restore, to rediscover who you really are.  But we have to accept his offer to come to him, to come to the throne room and receive his love.  Will you do that today?  Will you take all your shame and your fear and walk into the throne room with it and present yourself to the King?

Trust is the victim of rejection.

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When we are rejected, dropped by those who we thought believed in us or loved us, trust is what is fragmented. Sometimes the one who has fallen and dropped us will seek to repair the damage, asking forgiveness, which is a very good thing. But depending upon the severity of the break, trust will take time to heal. Other times, those who have dropped us don’t care or don’t even know they have caused damage. And this speaks to us: you are not worth it; I reject you.

It’s been said that rejection is the doorway through which much of our spiritual and emotional struggles will come in life. No one is immune to the sting of rejection. It lurks in the shadows and speaks it’s lies that we are not worthy, there is something wrong with us or that we are not good enough. This is the luggage we can carry around with us into every new friendship, relationship, job or neighborhood.

Before we can ever learn to trust again, before we can heal our broken feet, we must deal with this devil of rejection. And it is this that King David dealt with first with Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9) by calling him to his presence. He did not reject Mephibosheth. Even his servant, Ziba, was quick to let the king know that there was something wrong with this young man, that he was defective, not worth the time of the king of Israel. Yet, David decides that he wants to give favor to this broken one: favor not rejection.

Some of us have perfected the state of being rejected into an art. We have received it and accepted its lie to the place where we even will reject others before they can reject us. We downplay our good qualities in deference to all our flaws and refuse to receive the slightest compliment. We cannot believe that anyone would really be our friend, or truly believe in us, because rejection has made its home in our psyche.

Yet it is into this Grace walks. Grace says “come to My throne room and be the center of my attention.” Grace says “let Me enfold you in My arms and thwart the lies from your ears.” Grace says “you are loved and you are worthy just because you are.”

God begins the healing of our trust by calling us to him, just as we are, flaws and fears and all. Jesus says to us: “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (John 15:16a) He has chosen us. We are not alone.

Crippled Feet, Broken Trust

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When he was just a young boy, his dad, the Prince of Israel, had died in battle along with his grandfather. Fearing for the life of the royal heir, his nanny had snatched him up, ran for safety with him in her arms. That was, until she dropped him. Mephibosheth’s ankles had been crushed and never would heal. He was crippled. (2 Samuel 4:4)

Though we might not have a physical ailment keeping us from walking, I believe most of us can look to at least one or two (probably more) times in our lives when we we’ve been dropped emotionally or spiritually. Just like the young man’s story, someone we looked to for protection, for loyalty, for love or for covering had failed us and we were dropped.

It might have been a family member who physically, emotionally or sexually abused us or a teacher who told us we would never amount to anything. Maybe it was a spouse who left us or a minister we trusted who betrayed us. It might have been an organization, a job, a church or something we invested our whole heart and soul into only to find that we had been deceived and used. Personally, I know the pain of being dropped, having placed my trust in others who I thought had my best interest at heart, and only to find out that I was merely a vehicle to build their kingdom, expendable. I’ve been in the place where people who should have known me and my heart believed lies and turned away and cut me from their lives.

All these things and many more like them happen every day, and it leaves us saying this:

“I will never trust again.”

With this vow of our heart, our spiritual feet get smashed on the rocks of rejection and betrayal. Suddenly, the ease with which we built relationships before vanishes and we struggle to get our footing in life. It’s hard to move forward in life, make friends, and build a future when you find your trust crippled. It is easier just to close the door behind us and stay locked away with these damned feet that won’t work. We have been cursed, and we have believed the curse.

It is into this desolation that grace comes. It can be fearful at first, when the beginning peeks of light spread out underneath the door. When grace comes calling for us, we seek to hide behind our wounds, because it’s easier to accept the worst than believe it can get better. Why would God care about us, when deep down we believe, he is to blame for this? Couldn’t he have fixed it? Couldn’t he have protected us? Why now should we trust? How can we trust even if we wanted to? Our feet don’t work.

Yet the King is calling us. He is inviting us to his throne room. He comes for us. Can we trust, just one more time? Will we be willing to let down our guards, just one more time to see what grace can do?