Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along
the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Most of you are probably familiar with a magic trick/grifter con called ‘The Shell Game’. Simply put: A man places three upside-down plastic cups on a table. He puts a small ball under one of the cups, then quickly shuffles them around and around. The ultimate challenge is to guess which of the three cups contains the hidden ball.
Usually it isn’t too hard to guess where the ball is hidden, particularly if the trick is being performed by an amateur who keeps unconsciously glancing at the cup hiding the ball. But if the magician is skilled, it is nearly impossible to tell exactly which cup contains the ball.
I’m bringing this up because I think many of us ‘shuffle the cups’ to hide little balls of shame in our lives.
Sometimes it’s a silly thing, like the new wife who spends the first few months of her marriage scooping grocery bought food into her own dishes because she doesn’t want her husband to know she can’t cook. Sometimes it’s anything but silly, like the man who spends his evenings drinking in secret, but tells his distraught wife that she’s the one with the problem, not him. But, big or small, we all have our ‘shuffled shames’ that we try to hide with philosophical and spiritual sleight of hand. And, big or small, if left hidden they can destroy you.
One of the most freeing things to do is to confess your ‘shuffled shame’ to a trusted Christian friend. However, sometimes such friends aren’t available. Or maybe your shames are too huge and frightening to put into words. Or we’ve hidden those shames so well that even we don’t recall where they are. But God always knows what’s hidden under our ‘shuffled cups’. Our Father sees all, and He loves us in spite of them. He died on the cross to pay for every one of those hidden shames. He rose from the dead to show us we did not have to fear them.
Are you concealing a secret shame that is warping your life? If so, know that you are not alone, and that the Lord still loves you. There is no secret so shameful that Jesus cannot forgive it. Confess to a trusted friend, or to one of the Prayer Ministers at the Glennon House. Please don’t settle for a life lived in fear of someone guessing which plastic cup hides the ball.
Don’t waste another day of your precious life playing ‘The Shell Game’.