Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. (I John 4:20-22 NLT)
Guilt is probably the number one thing that gets us bogged down in life. It is also the number one thing that can lift us up to a place above our sin, out of that pit full of muddy water, and right into the place we can be free of it. We can bemoan the pit, constantly trying to bail water from around our ankles using a bucket with a hole in it, or we can turn the bucket over, stand upon it and peer up into the expanse of his grace. God expects us to do more than bail water, to just remain afloat - he expects us to position ourselves for complete and total rescue!
Shame is part of guilt - the emotional response to having done something which brought feelings of regret, diminished self-worth, etc. Shame is kind of like that bucket with the hole in it - worthless to actually free us from our despair over our sin as long as it is in our hands. The emotions just keep coming over and over, like the ever-rising muddy waters in the pit. The bucket might help us deal with some of them, but in time, we won't be able to keep up!
To be free, we turn the bucket over, break free of the muck and mire holding us down, and rise above the muddy water of guilt. Then we let Jesus use that momentary change in our position to begin to lift us out of the pit. Stop for just a moment to think about what we do when we turn the bucket over and stand upon it. We aren't saying we are capable of getting ourselves out of the messy place alone, we are simply saying we aren't going to try to do it ourselves, with "faulty" efforts any longer.
The pit of shame will hold us captive until we surrender the bucket. We can attempt to bail all we want, but eventually the effort of freeing ourselves from the muck will do us in - the faulty pail will do us little good. Most of us attempt to deal with our guilt and shame with things, but all these "things" are just faulty pails. The shame still holds on long after the things have outlived their usefulness! Sin and shame is best dealt with by God filling in the pit that we sunk into in the first place, not by bailing! Just sayin!