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A Stain is a Stain

The disposable paper cup was still quite full with steaming hot double-double when the coffee collision occurred. It was an innocent accident, the sort of mishap that can easily transpire while moving with haste in the presence of a hot beverage.

The spill happened so fast I had no time to react. One moment I was completely clean and coffeeless. The next I was covered in medium roast.

The moment the hot liquid hit I hopped up, hoping to minimize the damage but it was too late. The cup’s lid had popped off, releasing a flood of coffee rushing in my direction. By the time I stood up my lap was already thoroughly caffeinated along with my feet and brand new sneakers.

I quickly slipped off my shoes and ran them under cold water. Then, with the help of a damp paper towel, I went to work on cleaning my pants and was pleased when the coffee disappeared in a jiffy.

With my sneakers and pants cleaned and socks replaced I thought that all consequences of the coffee collision had been avoided until I caught a glimpse of my shirt. At the very top of my brand new blue t-shirt was one little round coffee stain. While I had been busy worrying about my shoes I had forgotten to look at my shirt. An hour post spill, when I finally thought to inspect it, the coffee spot on my new, once flawless shirt was completely dry and quite obvious.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “It’s just a shirt….It’s just a little spot…It’s not a big deal.” And you’re right. Shirts are just material possessions. They have no lasting value. A little stain on a shirt is nothing to cry over.

But what if that shirt were my soul?

You see, the trouble is not how I treat shirt stains; it’s treat soul stains.

When I sin do I check my entire being as well as I check my entire attire after a coffee spill? Do I throw off my sinful ways as quickly as I threw off my stained sneakers? Do I rush to God for cleansing and renewal as hastily as I rushed to the sink to clean up my pants and change my socks? Do I check my whole heart, mind and soul for wrong thoughts, motives and feelings? Or do I neglect to search my whole being like I neglected to check my whole wardrobe?

The moral of the coffee spill story is that a stain is a stain no matter how small.

Whether the sin comes rushing in like a flood or simply splatters a few droplets, the result is a stain. Once sin enters in the whole heart, soul and mind get stained meaning that the whole heart, soul and mind need cleansed. I cannot allow sin to be spilled in my life and address only the obvious stains. I must look everywhere, surrender everything and take my whole being before the throne of grace to get clean.

The longer a stain sits on a shirt the harder it is to get out and the same is true in the human heart. The longer I let sin go without the treatment of God’s correction, forgiveness and renewal, the more difficult it will be for me to come and allow Him to perform His work of washing in my life. I become more stubborn and less remorseful the longer sin sits in my heart. I become more tolerant and less troubled by the sin the more time spent with it tainting my life.

Thankfully, no matter how dry and troubling the stain of sin, God can thoroughly and completely clean it up. With the washing of regeneration that comes by way of Christ’s cross, God can remove every blemish, spot and stain. Even if the spill occurred decades ago, God can eliminate all evidence of the sin. When we give Him our whole selves and let Him have His will and way, God can and will wash every part of us and make us brand new for the glory of Jesus’ name.

 

Although the coffee stain had already set and dried on my new shirt all hope was not lost. With a good, thorough spot cleaning, the coffee spot disappeared. Now I can look at the shirt from every angle and in every light and never see the slightest remnant of stain. If I never told anyone, no one would ever know my new shirt had ever encountered a hot coffee collision.

And so it with us.

Once God cleans us up it is as if the stain never happened. He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. He restores us with grace and gives us a fresh start. He gives us new life through the power of the risen Jesus Christ.

It’s true that a stain is a stain no matter how small but the good news is that God is the One who can remove them all.

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Choose to Smile

“Geez, you’re sure out of breath!”

She was right. I was winded and red faced. My heart was racing, palms were sweaty and I felt like I’d just run a road race.

But this wasn’t a marathon or even a treadmill at the gym. It was the pick-up counter at my local coffee shop.

I paused, unsure of how to respond to the prodding stares coming from the baristas on the other side of the counter. Two women were staring at me, both nodding in agreement, recognizing that I was obviously, and oddly, breathless. The first barista was laughing as the second piped up. “Yea. She’s right! And your face is red, too.” she said with a chuckle.

At that moment I knew I had three options to choice from when it came to how I would respond.

Option A: Cry.

Tears used to be my go-to response whenever I was confronted by unkind, at times rude, commentary regarding my physical condition. If I didn’t cry on the spot I cried later in the bathroom. If I didn’t breakdown right then and there it was because I was holding back the tears with a lump in my throat.

Thankfully, I decided against Option A.

Option B: Educate.

At times this has been my best option when an ill-informed individual has made a statement that, had they known about my sickness, they would not have made. To educate the baristas I could have told them that my out of breath, winded condition was on account of my latest Lyme detox. For the sake of informing, I could have told them that since beginning my latest round of treatments these hot flashes had been striking me multiple times a day.

But it wasn’t the time nor place to enter into a discussion about the details of my disease and so I decided against option B.

Option C: Smile and laugh.

To smile, laugh and respond with grace is always the best option. Even if another word is never spoken, a smile speaks volumes. A smile and a little chuckle signals that life is short and it is silly to take simple comments too seriously. A smile extends grace to those who don’t know the background behind my breathlessness or cause of my condition. A smile says, “You don’t know why I’m out of breath and that’s okay.”

I choice option C.

 

There was a day not so long ago that I would have chosen option A and in some cases I still do choose option B but, in all cases, it is always best to practice option C. Smile. Laugh. Give grace.

Not every person I encounter will know or has to know about my sickness. Every barista that hands me a coffee cup doesn’t need to be enlightened about Lyme and the trials and tribulations of detox. God knows the ups and downs. God knows the cause of my breathlessness and the gory details of my detox and that’s enough.

God knows and loves me just as I am, sickness and all. God sees the fight underway for my life and He is cheering me on. The world doesn’t need to see it or even know that I’m in the fight for my life because the Creator and Sustainer of my body is fully aware of my every battle.

God is fighting for me, with me and through me so I can smile and say, “Ha! You’re right. Maybe I just drank my coffee to fast!”