It wasn’t that long ago, (and I’ve been thinking about it ever since) that we saw a group of women at the park where my children play. They were a group of women, brought to the park in a white van, who were fulfilling community service to the county. Wearing fluorescent vests while cleaning, picking up trash and the like.
One young woman, with her head hung low, walked past us and as she did, I caught a glimpse of writing that read:
I AM A DRUNK DRIVER.
No longer does the brightly colored vest bring enough humiliation. There must be more shame in big black letters.
And I’ve thought about her and how much we are a like.
Okay, I’m not a drunk driver. But, I’ve got a long list of past sins and failures. The only difference is that no one is expecting me to announce them, engraved on the back of a loudly colored vest.
greedy. dishonest. selfish. ungrateful. discontent. controlling. unloving. unkind. unjust. oh, my list is long.
While I’m very familiar with my shortcomings, there’s one thing I’m acquainted with even more. These words I do wear:
I AM FORGIVEN.
I don’t have to own that sinful pedigree which is rightfully mine. Regardless of how often I come up short, no matter how unable I am to live a righteous and holy life in my own strength: My Heavenly Father forgives. And He gives to me the righteousness of His son, Jesus. No humiliation or shaming required.
from Colossians 1:
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
Thank you, Jesus. You are the giver of life, love and forgiveness. By your sacrifice You have set me free. You have removed my vest of shame and clothed me in your righteousness. I am grateful for such mercy.