“In you, Lord, I put my trust: let me never be put to shame (Ps 31:1).”
Sounds good, but what kind of shame are we talking about? Does it mean I’ll never burn the Thanksgiving turkey again or press “Reply All” when my snarky comment was meant for only one person?
Not really. Shame before God is the only kind that counts in the end. It’s always caused by following our plans without checking in with God first. Shame that we stepped into a mess because we turned away from his guidance.
Our idea of shame can’t always be trusted—to human eyes, the most shameful thing was Jesus’ crucifixion, yet his human “shame” bought dignity and wholeness for every person who would ever live.
The psalmist reminds us how much effort we sometimes put into avoiding shame at the “human” level—avoiding human shame and buying human praise! But is that really important to God? Jesus did the right thing because he is one with God the Father. He was willing to face human shame to live out God’s greater plan.
The psalmist says: “You will lead me out of the trap they have laid for me….”
Treating our time as completely our own is a trap. A habit of plowing ahead with our to-do list without checking in with God can waste a lot of energy! Because we can’t know what we’re born to do this day, how we can best use our talents—how to decide what projects to dive into (and which to avoid), if we don’t pray first, and thank God for His help afterward. We keep on track and avoid shaming ourselves before God by keeping him in our day.
Pride can make us see our gifts and time as “mine,” so we use those gifts to avoid being criticized or gain praise from others (which can be stressful) rather than following God’s gentle voice (which brings peace).
When we’re frazzled by a long to-do list, we’re like the psalmist: “Tear me from the grip of my enemies, from those who hound me.” Do we realize that when we forget God’s guidance, our enemies start to hound us with lies like, “You’re not enough,” or “Nobody loves you or appreciates what you do.” The psalmist writes, “I have heard the scolding of the crowd.” And often the “crowd” shaming us is the prideful voices in our own head, “I should be more, I should be doing more.”
Sometimes the hardest thing to hear is, I love you more than you can imagine just as you are. Come—take my hand and follow me.
Psalm 31 continues: “You did not leave me locked in the grip of the enemy, but set my feet on free and open ground.” Only in our humble moments do we understand how listening to God to follow His will is the only freedom worth having.
It takes courage to look away from our to-do list and turn to God during the day. But if we do, we can sing, free from shame, with the psalmist: “Be brave, let your hearts be strong, all who trust in the Lord.”
Lord, let me check in with you as I plan and carry out my day. You have given me gifts, including my time—but they can’t do any good if I leave you out. Let me cooperate with you and “I will rejoice and be glad in your kindness.”