Walking back to the car after my boys’ first soccer practice of the season, I noticed something… green… gross… mushy. It was goose poop, on my side-view mirror. Yeeew. But there was more. On the windows, on the hood… I’d been pelted! Oh well, I needed a car wash anyway, I thought. But little did I anticipate what would happen after the car wash.
You see, a couple months earlier, when I was swinging my van into the garage with the speed and ease that I always do, I heard a scrape. I got out, and to my horror, saw that I had clipped the side of the garage, leaving a two-foot long, two-inch wide white scrape on the side of the van. Ugh. I’d lived with this scrape for about two months now. And though I’ve never been super proud to drive a minivan, this blemish took the status of my ride to an all-time low.
Every day, this scrape stared me in the eyes, reminding me of my own mistakes and imperfections.
But today, when I got home from washing off the goose poop, I noticed some peeling around that old nasty scrape. Oh no, I thought, now the paint is peeling even more! But upon further examination, it wasn’t the red paint that was peeling, but the white scrape. Hmmm… I thought. I peeled a little more. Underneath was the sparkling red paint of my minivan, not at all the ugliness, metal, or rust I expected to see as a layer peeled away.
What was under that dreadful white scrape looked brand new.
Once I’d peeled away all the loose pieces, I had a newfound gusto for returning my car to its natural state. I ran inside and grabbed the Magic Eraser. Returning to the garage, I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed some more. It was coming off. ALL OF IT! I couldn’t believe it! This blemish that I thought would forever pronounce my failure on the side of my van was GONE! What was left was sparkling, shiny, and NEW!
Of course, God started screaming lessons at me as I scrubbed. I couldn’t ignore the teaching that was coming to mind. Verses like:
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” - Isaiah 1:18
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!” -II Corinthians 5:17
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” - Psalm 103:11-13
God doesn’t hold on to our sins. He forgives them and wipes them away absolutely clean the moment we confess them to Him. So why can’t we do the same? Why do we hang on to our sin and wear it around as a badge of shame, beating ourselves down over it again and again? He forgives us, but often we can’t forgive ourselves. We don’t believe we can ever be good as new again, just like I didn’t believe my van could be (unless I invested hundreds of dollars in repair… but that’s beside the point… 😉).
Our sin does not define who we are. It’s our identity in Christ that defines us.
God’s LOVE for me… His FORGIVENESS of my sin… His ADOPTION of me as His child… those are the things that define me. Yes, I’ll mess up. But I don’t need to hang on to the “ugly” as a badge of shame. I need to see it for the mess that it is and wash it off IMMEDIATELY like I did with that goose poop.
I run to my Father for forgiveness, and then I forgive myself, so that I can “…proclaim the excellencies of Him who called [me] out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)