Shout It Out

Isaiah 64:6 ...all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

When Hannah recently turned fifteen, her dad and I helped her celebrate with a night out to see the comedian, Tim Hawkins. We had acquired "VIP" tickets which included the option to meet him before the event. This was supposed to be a surprise but as often happens sometime between acquisition and attendance that detail slipped out.

Once Hannah knew she would be meeting a celebrity, her wardrobe for the evening took on far greater significance. She landed on a fashionable ensemble accented by her new favorite skirt - black satin with floral beige lace overlay. As she painstakingly prepared, she leaned up against her bathroom countertop to get a closer view of her makeup application. This would be no problem in a regular household but not such a great maneuver in a home filled with four daughters.

Someone (likely under the age of 6) had "colored" a near perfect circle of bright red lipstick on the front edge. Hannah's skirt now had a lovely polka dot just above the hem. Hannah is resilient and simply turned her skirt around to the back and the blemish was forgotten long before she shook Tim Hawkins' hand. When I pulled her skirt out of the hamper, there was no mistaking the scarlet mishap. I used every laundry tool I own including a variety of stain removers but even with five times through the wash I couldn't completely eradicate that stain.

Today I continue my trek through Revelation by reading the 4th chapter. In this portion of Revelation, John sees God himself seated on the throne. There are no words to accurately describe what he is seeing so John keeps drawing analogies to the familiar. There are four creatures around the throne who testify day and night to the greatness of God. They never stop saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty."

Notice what they don't say:
  • Loving, loving, loving
  • Merciful, merciful, merciful
  • Gracious, gracious, gracious or even
  • Just, just, just

I pondered this for a bit. Why do they perpetually speak of God's holiness? Perhaps it is because that is the one attribute of God that we can never entirely emulate. We were created in God's image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore we are capable of shining moments of love, mercy, grace and justice. According to Isaiah 64:6 my most righteous act or day is as permanently marked with sin just as Hannah's skirt is with lipstick. The question is how do I respond to my sin?

  • I Can Ignore It - Just as Hannah could turn her skirt around, it is possible for me to be blind to my sin's mottle. I can choose to ignore the quiet voice of God until its' hardly audible. I begin to fool myself that the unreliable thermometer of my guilt level is somehow indicative of how righteously I am or am not behaving. Only with God's help is it possible for me to recognize the depth of my sin and the areas in my life He needs to continue to work.
  • I Can Cover It Up - No matter how many times I washed Hannah's skirt, I couldn't make it spotless. Just as David attempted to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba with murder, I too try cover my own sin. I try to wash it away with stain relievers like good deeds and generosity but my stain remains. Only the perfect detergent of God's love, grace and sacrifice can remove it.
  • I Can Face It - I honestly may have never even noticed Hannah's spot if she hadn't pointed it out. In the hurry of washing six people's clothes it is entirely possible for some stains to simply to undetected. My only hope is to face my sin and allow God's holiness to wash over me.

Jesus, You can "shout out" my sin with a whisper of Your grace. Today my heart will sing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty," as I face my sin and allow Your grace to purify my deepest stain.

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