While doing laundry one day, I pulled some clothes out of the washer and along with them, an ink pen. For some stupid reason, I pulled the cap off the pen, and some ink dripped on to my jeans… my favorite pair of jeans.
I would love to say one of my kids or my husband was the culprit, but I can’t. It was a Sharpie pen, and I’m the only one who uses them. In fact, no one else is allowed to use them because they are my writing pens.
With 10 minutes before needing to leave, I take off my jeans and work to get the ink stain out. I put a towel inside the jeans behind the stain, take a wet cloth with some dish soap and start scrubbing. I prayed too. Seriously… my favorite pair.
Thankfully, the stain came out. The ink actually soaked into the towel. If I hadn’t put the towel inside, the back of the jeans would have absorbed the stain.
This potentially devastating incident reminded me of salvation for several reasons.
First, my mistakes caused the stain.
I couldn’t blame anyone else. So often, we want to look for somewhere else to place blame. We try to avoid admitting we did anything wrong. This is pride. The stain on my jeans was my fault, just like I cannot blame anyone else for the sin in my life.
Second, without Jesus absorbing my stains, I would just experience them in another part of my life.
Had I not put the towel in the pant leg, I would either have had to scrub the other side of my jeans or given them up as lost. But the towel took on the stain and removed it from my jeans. Jesus does the same for us. He did it on the cross at Calvary. When we admit our sins and ask for forgiveness, he absorbs those sins, and we no longer have to bear their stain on our lives. Sure, there are consequences, but we certainly do not become useless. He washes us clean and makes us presentable again.
Third, acting quickly made all the difference.
If I hadn’t taken the time to get the stain out right away, the ink would have dried, and my favorite jeans would have become my work-around-the-house jeans. This equates to keeping short accounts in my spiritual life.
When we allow sin to remain in our lives, it becomes a permanent stain. Sure, Jesus removes it whenever we ask him to, but a stain’s imprint (the consequences) becomes more prominent the longer we allow it to remain in our lives.
The sooner we ask for forgiveness, the longer we get to live without that stain. That’s also less time for consequences to wreak havoc. Doesn’t mean we won’t have to live with any consequences, but certainly the impact lessens the sooner we repent.
Looking Back Lessons
Looking back on the inky jeans incident, I realize the stain resulted from my failure to think first. I just pulled off the cap. So often, sin happens because we don’t stop and think before acting. The incident also happened because I failed to take care of the pen in the first place. When we intentionally avoid situations that can lead to sin, more of our lives will remain stain-free.
Also, I am thankful that the pen fell out of the washer onto the floor and didn’t make its way into the dryer. Otherwise, a whole load of clothing may have gotten permanently stained. With temptation, God either gives us a way to bear it or a “way out.” (I Corinthians 10:13) It’s a matter of whether or not we take that way out and if we rely on Him when it’s presented to us. If we don’t, sin often results.
Everyday situations present us with opportunities to hear from God. Even an ink stain teaches us His truths. When we are open to hearing from Him at any time, we find that He works in the smallest details in some very powerful ways. And the small changes that He makes in our lives always add up to make a huge difference. In this case, victory over sin!