"With his love, he will calm all your fears.He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more." – Zephaniah 3:17-18 (New Living Translation)
One of my favorite memories is of my husband singing over my daughter while she was still in my womb. I liken it to God singing over His first children, Adam and Eve, as He brought them to life. And, just as my daughter Bekah quieted when Dave sang over her right after she was born, I'm convinced Adam and Eve immediately recognized the comfort of God's voice.
This beautiful picture of God's love is also reflected in Adam and Eve's intimacy with one another. Their relationship with each other and with God was completely pure. Impurity was a foreign concept.
But all it took to bring complete upheaval of Adam and Eve's security was one breach of their Father's will. After Satan attacked their purity before God, it seemed they had lost their voices, and they were afraid to listen to God's. Instead, they hid in the bushes, ashamed and afraid.
So the Bible tells us that, grasping for anything to protect themselves, they sewed together fig leaves to make coverings for their bodies and their souls. When their Father came to walk with them, they were quaking in the bushes.
Running for Cover
I remember vividly the first time as a Christian that I intentionally hid from God and others. It was during our engagement. Alone together in the apartment where Dave was living, we touched in ways I knew God reserved for marriage. After we parted, I wept, devastated at dishonoring God.
That night, at a church fellowship, I made a run for the bushes. Instead of finding someone safe to talk to, I kept quiet. Why? Pure and simple, I was insecure and deeply ashamed. "Surely we will never fall again," I thought.
Unfortunately, that decision didn't help me find cleansing or hope. Rather, it was the beginning of repeated struggles. And once married, a similar pattern continued with Dave's intermittent battles with pornography – alternating between confessing, covering and compensating – until we both decided once and for all to do whatever it took to come out of hiding.
Now I realize that the impurity in our relationship tapped into existing shame from the sexual abuse I received as a child. It also pulled from experiences growing up as the firstborn daughter of an alcoholic. Like Adam and Eve, I bought into Satan's whisper, "What will God and others think about you now?"
God, Our Safest Place
If you or your spouse has struggled with impurity, you understand that the fear of reproach from others (in the form of disgrace, blame or judgment) is strong. Recently, a wife whose husband just confessed a longtime habit of watching pornographic videos wrote, "I feel like if others find out we'll be judged."
Why does Satan want to keep us in the bushes? Certainly, one reason is so that he can go to work creating a stronghold in our hearts. Hiding from God and others only escalates the shame, making us more likely to listen to Satan's accusations and less likely to believe we can change.
But the truth is that God is the safest place to turn after impurity. God alone can guide us toward repentance while quieting the shame, fear and disgrace of our sin. For instance, think of:
- David and Bathsheba. After adultery, murder and one of the biggest hiding jobs of all time, God exposed their sin. Yet, after their repentance, God restored them, telling them to name their second child Solomon, which means loved by the Lord (2 Samuel 12:24-25).
- The Samaritan Woman. Not wanting to face others who might judge her for five previous husbands and her current live-in boyfriend, the Samaritan woman came to the well in the heat of the day. Jesus gently dismantled her defenses, offered her the true need of her heart and took her from hiding out to touching an entire town! (John 4:1-26).
As someone who has spent way too much time and energy covering my weakness, I can tell you that living in the light is glorious. Knowing that God has removed the disgrace of the losses Dave and I have experienced makes me want to shout, "How amazing is your grace, my God!"
But let's take this one step further. If we aren't going to cover ourselves with the proverbial fig leaves, what will cover the shame of our sin and help us to trust God's voice again?