The wages of sin is death. It's a truth that Pastor Maury Davis of Cornerstone Church in Nashville, Tennessee, has faced for over 40 years.
As a teenager, strung out on drugs and in the middle of a robbery, he committed a murder that would trail his life and his ministry.
Every day there is a reminder of the disgrace of his past, whether it's a public rebuke from a local newspaper or a subtle hint at the longevity of the consequences. Sometimes the shame punches him in the gut, other times it's as simple as not being allowed to vote in an election or his family being denied housing at an apartment complex because of his felony record.
Shame is sneaky that way. It is ever present, even when you almost forget it exists. Forgiveness won't erase the past or heal the wounds of taking a life, but grace can displace the shame.
Instead of living in the shame, he can walk with it. He can use his past to effect change and send a message of hope, love, and redemption. Pastor Davis chose to let the dishonor of his sin be a tool in transforming lives. It doesn't make it any easier to face the consequences of sin, but it makes it worth it.
Even now, after 8 1/2 years in prison and 40 years in ministry, building a faithful congregation, a weekly television show and an international ministry, there are still daily reminders of sin, wounds that Pastor Davis can't heal. Yet, he chooses to end every service with the declaration that "I'm too blessed to be depressed. I'm too anointed to be disappointed. I'm sitting on top of the world with my feet hanging off."
Finding the still, small voice of God in the loud clatter of the world is hard. Declaring silent grace daily to overshadow public shame is not an easy decision, but at the end of the day, grace wins.
Gabby Shumate is a member of Pastor Maury Davis' Cornerstone Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
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