When I was about sixteen, I acknowledged that I had done something wrong and I turned myself in, I was asking for punishment. I was ready to pay the price for the wrong that I had done.
I was a mess. I was ashamed. That summer, as part of a plan to get me straightened out before my junior year of high school, of all places, I found myself at a Christian camp for the last portion of the summer, surrounded by righteous, Christ-loving people. I saw it as more of a burden than a blessing at the time…seeing all these ‘perfect’ people with Christ so present in their lives, then me, scarred by my past and a mess in every sense.
I wasn’t perfect like those at camp seemed to be, not even close, and being there was a constant reminder of that. Periodically, I would find myself out on the porch outside the cabin I was staying in, only to look up at the stars and wonder aloud to God. “Why, God why? I don’t even want You to look at me… How is it that You can love me when I can’t even love myself? I don’t deserve this…I deserve death. Father, if these others are sinners, then what am I?”
I hid my face in shame. I just felt so bad, as though what I had done was too bad to be forgiven. One night my youth counselor (Bob Emrich) came out of the cabin and joined me. I was never one to easily conceal my feelings, so it did not take long for him to know what I was struggling with, and his response was one that I will never forget.
“God wants to love you, God wants to love us…It’s almost a slap in the face to Him that you won’t let Him love you. It’s as though you were to give someone a gift, something that you made yourself, made just to their liking, and for that person to turn to you, and to just say no.…I don’t want it. You’re rejecting His love and His sacrifice. Jesus already died for you; accept His actions and His gift. And this shame? This thought that you’re too bad for His love to make a difference? That’s taking yourself to the point of saying that the place you’re in is far too bad for God to ever be able to help you, and in doing so, you minimize His power. God is more powerful than anything you have to be ashamed of. While you think that you’re humbling yourself in these things, you really just place yourself and the power of your sin higher above His power.”
Have you ever done that? Have you ever thought your sins or your problems were too much for God to handle?