When my daughters were little, they had a playroom where they would often play “school.” We had an old fashion chalk board in that room. The girls would fight or do something they were not supposed to do and I thought, “Let’s put their names on the chalk board and put a mark by their name when they did something wrong.” Later we would talk about it and I would then pray with them and say, “I forgive you and so does God.” This became a habit and something of a family ritual every night before they went to bed. I would erase the marks and “start with a clean slate” the next day. One evening, my youngest daughter looked at the board and said, “Mommy, I can still see the marks. God must not have heard our prayer.” I went to the bathroom and got a wet sponge to “wash” the board clean. No more visible marks – just a clean slate.
Have you ever experienced the feeling that you weren’t completely “forgiven?” Do you still feel the “marks” of sin and guilt? How do you deal with those feelings? Instead of worrying about the things you have done, pray instead! Give all of your doubts and fears to God. Tell God your weaknesses, your temptations, your failures. Thank God for all he has done for you. Remember the words of Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me . . . Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” Pray those words and know forgiveness in your heart. God wipes the slate clean and forgives us and loves us. In my daughters’ example, sometimes we have to “see the marks” before we can see the results of God’s love and forgiveness. Tell someone about your experience of forgiveness. In the season of Lent, it is important for us to see the results of our sin and to know that God has washed us clean. Look at the cross and realize the depth of God’s love and grace. Then look at how Jesus overcame the cross and the grave! That is the way God washes away the marks of our sin. How can we keep this a secret?
My daughters would bring friends over and they would show them their chalkboard and tell them how I would “wipe the slate clean” every night. I’d hear their friends talking about that board and the marks. It was a great object lesson for them and they shared their feelings of forgiveness and love with their friends. I’m praying for you and hoping you will share your experience of love and forgiveness too.
Rev. Bev Hall, pastor of Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church, Middleburg Heights, OH