Hi everyone, welcome back and pull up a seat. I want to share another blast from my past with you. When I was about eleven years old or so, I had a paper route. My vision was not as such that it prevented me from having this first little job. I would walk up to the doughnut shop that was right across the street from my road and get a couple of cream filled long-Johns and a milk to start my morning.
I would walk the neighboring streets delivering my rolled-up newspapers that I had lovingly (more like grudgingly) rolled up and placed a rubber band around. I stuffed them all in my bag, slung it cross body over my shoulder, and laced up my sneakers. Off I went for about three hours, tossing papers onto porches. Then came the day of the week that I hated the most about this job. Collection day. Uhhh! It took at least five times as long because now I had to knock on all those doors to collect the money for the newspapers. Some people paid monthly, some people paid quarterly, but most people paid weekly.
On collection day, I walked along carrying my bright orange money bag displaying the name of our local paper. Most of the time it went pretty smoothly. There were some instances when people swore they paid me last week for this weeks paper. I would have to get out the card that showed when they paid and how much and that they signed it before convincing them to turn loose of that 25 cents. I always felt like I was taking a meal off their table when I presented the card that explained that they hadn’t in fact paid yet and they had to go search the couch cushions for a nickel, a dime, and ten pennies.
There was a time I remember very well when I came upon a house that had a glass storm door. I knocked and stepped back awaiting the homeowner. No one came. I knocked again a little louder this time… no one. I knocked one last time and while I stood there, I began swinging the money bag around in a circle. Then back and forth. Then… crash! My bag full of coins connected with the glass door.
My mouth gaped open and my eyes bugged out. I made a snap decision and bolted hoping not to be caught. Anyone could have broken that door, right? How in the world would they ever know it was me? I fled to the next house which was blessedly on the next street. My nerves were on point. I was sure the police sirens I heard in the distance were coming for me.
Quickly finishing my route, I raced home, tossed off my empty newspaper bag and went to the task of counting out the money. I would gladly chip in the quarter for the house whose window I just shattered. Getting all of that in order and realizing that the cops were not interested in putting me on the America’s Most Wanted list, I relaxed a bit and went about the rest of my day. Then it happened.
The phone rang. My mother answered and said “Hello? Yes, my daughter delivers the newspaper…” My stomach lurched. I paused and listened. “Uh, I’m not sure but I will certainly talk to her and get back with you.” I began searching for places to hide. It was no use, my mom marched into my room and posed that terrible mom question that no one wants to answer, “Do you have something you want to tell me?”
Arms folded and foot tapping, I responded with “mmmm, nope.”
She proceeded to tell me how the neighbor heard the crash and quickly looked out her back door to see the papergirl standing there looking shocked then bolting away. Just my luck. I hung my head and started to cry. “Now, now” , my mom had said, “you know it was wrong to do what you did.” She went on to tell me that everyone makes mistakes and we need to own up to those mistakes, take responsibility, and learn from it. I lifted my head and confessed my deed.
1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God so wants to extend forgiveness when we ask for it. We could try and bolt from our wrongdoings but like a parent, God always knows what we do or don’t do. It’s not that He is waiting to punish us, He is giving us the freedom to choose His forgiveness. God will never force His will or mercy on anyone. No, He offers it as a gift to be accepted freely. When we do accept it, He is faithful to wipe that sin away like marker off a white board. No trace of it left behind. Each time we come to Him with a wrong doing, He simply asks us to tell Him what it is we did so we know why we are asking for forgiveness. Then He says, “because I love you and I know you will make mistakes and you are coming to me with it now, I forgive you and you can forgive yourself too.”
It took me a little bit but after I told the homeowner what I had done and why I ran, she said she understood that I was probably scared and didn’t know what to do. But once I got everything out in the open, I could put it behind me and learn from my mistake. I’d like to tell you that I confessed everything I’d ever done after that, but that wouldn’t be realistic. It’s a process to get there. I’ll keep ya posted as to when I am close.
God isn’t looking to bring the hammer down. Friends, He already knows everything about us. He is waiting not with arms folded, but with arms open waiting to hold us and say “I forgive you”. No toe-tapping, no tsk-tsking, no finger shaking. Just patient love waiting to be poured out over us. Run into His open arms and receive that forgiveness.
Winter Fruit Salad
1 can pears
1 can peaches
1 can chunk pineapple
1 can mandarin oranges
1 can cherry pie filling
Open cans and drain liquids from all but the cherry pie filling. Empty contents of all cans into a pretty glass bowl for visual appeal. Stir together and serve.
Note: For an added bit of sweetness, top with whipped cream or sprinkle on dry instant vanilla pudding and stir in. This makes a great party dish. Just double or triple cans if needed for the size of your gathering. You could also alter the pie filling to your favorite kind; apple, blueberry, peach, whatever you like.