I think I was about seven years old when my parents took my brother and me to Kings Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati, my hometown, to have some family fun. We were having a fantastic time! The weather was beautiful, we ate every food that’s completely unhealthy, and we rode almost every ride. I was having the time of my life!
Until I sat in some chewing gum.
For a kid who had been out in the sun all day running around and screaming and laughing, you’d think I would have been far too busy to bother with it. But I was girl, after all. And gum stuck on your butt is just not stylish. In short, I freaked out! To me it was the end of the world and the most embarrassing thing e-v-e-r.
My mom tried to reassure me that it was no big deal and to just forget about it so we can go back to having fun and doing all we came to the park to do. But I couldn’t let it go. To me, the whole world saw my stain and was laughing at me.
Sin can have the same effect on us. The filth of sin can stick to us and not want to let go. Now, I’m not suggesting you ignore sin like chewing gum stuck on your clothes. Sin should always be addressed and repented. But we all know that sin can come in a variety of shapes and sizes and depth. It can range from a simple “oops!” to something far, far worse. The sin may indeed be embarrassing in afterthought, and it can be very staining at times. And we know according to Scripture that the wages of sin is death and so it must be corrected.
So, even though all have sinned and fallen short, does that mean that God can’t use you?
My pastor once gave the analogy of a volunteer (we’ll call him Bob) showing up at church or an outreach event, but along the way he stops to get a Big Mac and eat it in the car. But the “special sauce” drips heavily on Bob’s shirt. He doesn’t have another shirt and there’s no time to go home and change. So he has to show up to volunteer with a big stain on his shirt. Embarrassing? A little. But could God still use Bob to do His kingdom’s work? Oh yes!
See, God doesn’t look at our stains. Once you accept Christ into your heart and devote your life to Him, as far as He’s concerned you’re as clean as a fancy new sheets at a high priced resort. He forgets about your sin. Completely!
He says in Jeremiah 31:34,
“For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
And Psalm 103:11-12 says,
“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
The Lord literally forgives and forgets our sins. That’s great news! Any stain that’s left behind is a self-perceived human thing. Our problem is that we just can’t seem to let go of the past and move on.
We wonder how we can ever be effective for Christ when we have “special sauce” all over the front of us. We think, “Isn’t it awful? Isn’t it embarrassing? I can’t go out like this!” And that’s right where Satan wants you.
“How can God use me?” you might ask. “You don’t know my past. I’m worth nothing. I can’t do anything!” That’s a lie directly from Satan!
See, God isn’t concerned about your past. He wants you now, right where you are, and He knows you’re able. He knows He can use you for His purposes if you allow Him.
He knows you’re in the perfect spot to increase your faith, help others, fulfill His eternal plan, and bring glory to Him. He doesn’t just use people with a theology degree, or someone who works at a church, or people who run orphanages in Africa. The overwhelming majority of the time He uses just ordinary, everyday folks like you and me to accomplish His works.
Let’s be clear….there are no pre-requisites. None! There’s no special training or special abilities involved. All He asks is for a willing heart to serve and to bless others. All you have to do is show up. Easy, right?
Isn’t it wonderful that God sees us as we are and we don’t need to curry His favor? God loves us so much more than we realize. The Cross proves it!
So, are you ready to do be used for kingdom work? Then forget about the past. Forget that stain. Go out there and make a difference for Christ!
And if you happen to sit in gum, just forget about it. It’ll wash out.