But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
I used to think I was a pretty good kid. As I have shared with you from my past, various memories come to life. Some are humorous, some are serious, some are painful, and some are, well, criminal. I still think the crime of the century was when I decided to rob the little world bank that my Mama brought home from church…for safekeeping. But there was at least one more thing that I did that proved for certain I was, and still am, a sinner.
I was probably eight years old. While there wasn’t a Wal-Mart to be found, there were other stores that were the forerunners of today’s retail mega-giant. Ours was called Atlantic Mills and it was the place to go for good deals on just about anything you could imagine. I remember it well because that is where we bought our Easter outfits. We would go either Friday or Saturday before Easter (depending on Daddy’s payday, of course) and the girls would get their patent leather shoes and frilly dresses and I would get a shirt and tie. Even then it was quite the event.
Easter wasn’t the only time we went to Atlantic Mills. We would occasionally go just to shop around. Of course, at my young age, I equated shopping with buying. I still do. Why go to a store if you are not going to buy something? That’s like going to a restaurant with no intention of eating. What? Really? So, anyway, one time we went to Atlantic Mills and it was one of those times when we weren’t buying—we were looking. Well, that just didn’t work for me, so I started begging Mama for a dollar. Now, keep in mind, a dollar in 1962 was the equivalent of the entire economy of a third world country.
Mama said no. Period, nada, ain’t gonna happen. Well, I kept begging. (I was pretty good at it. Give me enough time and I could wear anyone down.) Finally, out of shear desperation, she reached in her purse and pulled out—a quarter. Was I grateful? Of course not. Even then a quarter just didn’t have a lot of buying power. I finally gave up and took my quarter to look for a treasure. Two things happened in the next few minutes. First, I started feeling guilty for hassling my Mama and decided I should spend the quarter to buy something for her. Someone say, “Awww.”
The second thing was I really realized that besides candy, there wasn’t a lot in Atlantic Mills for a quarter. Well, I looked around and found a pretty scarf that I just knew my Mama would like. The problem was it was something like $1.49. At that point, my young sinner/criminal mind began cooking something up. I wasn’t about to outright steal it. That could get you hard time. So, I decided that I would switch the price tags. I looked around and found something for a quarter, found a place where no one could see me, and carefully removed that price tag and put it on the scarf. There. Done deal. No one would ever know the difference. Oops.
I went to the checkout counter and found out two things. First, did you know even then there was a code on the price tag indicating what department it came from. I found out too late that they didn’t sell scarves in hardware. Second, the checkout lady was not a newcomer to the checkout business and she quickly realized that this scarf was worth more than a quarter. Bottom line—she nailed me. She looked down at my frightened face and into my tearing eyes and said, “Did you switch this price tag?” Well, I “spilled my guts” and I believe I even told her why. She didn’t turn me in…she didn’t have too. Her words were punishment enough. I walked away a mess with my quarter still in my hand. As far as I remember I didn’t buy anything that day and I guess I gave the quarter back to Mama. It was a total disaster.
Now, before you act as the States Attorney and put me on trial, the statute of limitations has expired on this. And besides that, I was just doing what sinners do—sin. And since we are all sinners, all of us can probably identify with this sin thing. It didn’t matter that I was eight—I was old enough to know better. I don’t know if I told Mama or not, but that didn’t matter because God knew and He is even more important than Mama. It is things like this, and a lot more, that make me a big fan of God. The way He extends His grace to sinners like me is just amazing. It is so amazing they wrote a song about it.
I well remember the guilt and shame I felt that day which probably means I did confess to God and probably to Mama too. I’m sure both of them forgave me. A guy named John, who was a BFF (best friend forever) of Jesus and who wrote some of the New Testament said that if we are willing to confess our sins, God is more than willing to forgive us. That is good news. And the best part? There are no limitations. His love and grace go longer and farther than the “Energizer bunny.” No matter what, if we come to Him in sincerity and repentance, He will sincerely forgive us. He could handle my eight -year-old sins then and my sins today. As always, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne