Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

On Grace and Ketchup August 9, 2013

Filed under: Grace — Stephanie Rische @ 10:12 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Forgive me for being sacrilegious, but every time I sing “Jesus Paid It All,” I can’t help but think about ketchup.

 

My husband played his bass at church last week, and we sang the lines of that old classic spiritual:

 

Jesus paid it all

All to him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

 

While other people were no doubt musing about spiritual things like substitutionary atonement, I was instantly transported to the teenage version of myself. On a big yellow school bus, no less.

 

I was sixteen, and just a few months prior, I’d made the first major clothing purchase of my life: a beautiful brown suede leather jacket. I’d had my eye on it for a long time, and after saving up my heard-earned babysitting money, I finally made the purchase.

leathercoat

 

I felt pretty cool wearing it to high school (even if I was mortified to still be riding the bus). One morning I was minding my own business, doing some finishing touches on my homework on the way to school, when all of a sudden I heard a sickening splat. I looked down at the arm of my precious caramel-colored jacket. It was smeared with ketchup, the casualty of crossfire between two punky boys who were apparently having a post-breakfast food fight.

 

I was, in all the drama of teenagerdom, devastated.

 

Later Mom and I took the coat to the dry cleaner’s. The lady matter-of-factly told me they’d be able to get the ketchup out but the coat would never be the same. I was crushed. But I also knew I wouldn’t be able to stand smelling vaguely like McDonald’s for any length of time, so I handed over the jacket.

 

They were right. The coat was never the same again. It lost its velvety finish, and the discolored spot where the ketchup hit its mark never went away.

 

When I think about the stain of my sin, I have the same fear—that the stain will never come out. And that even if does, I’ll never be the same again. So I hold back from going to the only one who can make me clean again. I try in vain to mask the ketchupy stench that trails me wherever I go.

 

At the risk of stating the obvious, Jesus’ cleansing abilities are infinitely more effective than the dry cleaner’s. Sin has indeed left its crimson mark on us, but it’s no match for his forgiveness. He washes us white as snow, and leaves us better than he found us.

“Come now, let’s settle this,”

says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

I will make them as white as snow.

Though they are red like crimson,

I will make them as white as wool.”

—Isaiah 1:18

 

Whatever marred spot you are trying to hide, it’s time to come and settle this. There is no sin too great, no stain too deep, that he cannot wipe it out.

 

But even so, if you ever find yourself on the school bus with punky kids, I’d advise you to leave the leather jacket at home.

 

white as snow

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4 Responses to “On Grace and Ketchup”

  1. Marilyn Kitchell Says:

       and when the verse comes in,   1st the sword and then the ear or something similar …         I think of my mother and I laughing so hard (and trying even harder not to… which made it worse)    as we thought of the sword cutting off someone’s ear ….  we couldn’t stop.    I know i’m not getting it right, but I bet several people have similar   memories … thanks for sharing …          but it WILL remind me of Jesus paying it all … and the sin completely gone … no residual marks, the jacket being completely “as new’ which He makes us …. white as snow …  what a privilege we have of knowing our God-Creator Who alone can do all this.

    ________________________________

  2. Nancy Rische Says:

    What ketchup for breakfast?? Just last night on our way home from the rescue mission a new participant said to me “If only those men knew that their sin is not able to keep them from the love of God.” We so often allow sin to cover our eyes and heart. I want to live in that white as snow reality.
    As a side note: I am glad to see that you are on the ketchup side of the family not the catsup side as Kim always tried to teach the kids. Ask Daniel which side he is on. I am betting he landed on the ketchup side too.


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