If you can make this statement I will tell you I agree with you – but not for the reasons you might think.
You as a Christian who has served God in front of others have gone and done something that you know is wrong. You’ve probably shamed yourself, perhaps your family, community and church, and feel that God must be ashamed of you as well. God feels distant, and perhaps you are not even bothering to reach out to him. Your depressed, anxious and afraid. You might be afraid others in your church might find out.
What is wrong with this picture? In short everything.
The first mistake was for you to assume your service to God was about you. It was not. It’s about him. Perhaps this might be at the root of your issues. When the focus is on yourself instead of the one you are serving, you are bound to fail.
The next mistake was that you have fallen prey to the disease of shame. Not all shame is bad mind you, but this kind of shame consists of self loathing, self pitying and self punishment. (Did you catch the common word of self in there?) This kind of shame generates depression, anxiety and fear and is spiritually deadly, and can be physically harmful. We would never attribute those characteristics to God would we? This is how we know we are not in the will of God as what we are doing we know God would not desire us to be here. This you can take all the credit for in the world because you have forgotten five things:
1. He is God. You are not. You are worrying about what you have done and what others in your church, family and community will think even though you have no chance of actually affecting any of it by obsessing on this. It is a vicious circle. The more you worry, the more miserable you become.
2. By doing this, you have taken God off the throne of your life and have put yourself there. Is God not to be trusted now, just because you have done something wrong? Did God change? The truth is your shame over what you have done is preventing you from turning it over to God and letting him handle these things. God loves you and is wanting this to happen for you.
3. You are not alone. We all have fallen at various times. I say this to make you feel better but to also as further evidence that your service to God has been about you and not him. Otherwise why would it matter?
4. God’s call on your life remains. When you are ready to let go of the bricks that are weighing you down because of what you have done and turn them over to God, your calling still awaits. God didn’t change just cause you did. God’s call on your life didn’t change.
5. Don’t deny the cross – By not accepting the forgiveness of Christ for what you have done, you deny his sacrifice for you. You were never worthy of that sacrifice to begin with nor will you start now.
Any Christian of course, when times like this confront them, must of course stand back and reevaluate where they are. It may call for a time to step back from ministry and think about what it is you have done, the reasons behind it, and correct it. In the end, when you return to ministry again, your testimony becomes more powerful as God has restored you when it all seemed hopeless.
The truth is, however, I can quote scripture about forgiveness until I am blue in the face, pray with you unceasingly, and you can talk to all the spiritual gurus you know. You can go to church, read the Bible, and pray out of habit but nothing will change until you are ready inside yourself to come to grips with what you have done, ask for forgiveness and move on from it. This is not something you can intellectually do. It’s something that has to occur within your soul, between you and God. And that is quite appropriate as that is where the beginning of ministry is.
God’s work awaits and you are part of that, and the the local church body you attend miss your contributions – and YOU!. So get right with God, get your heart and mind focused on who you should be focusing on, and get back to work!