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God Cleans Up Our Messes
By Col. Scott McChrystal, Battle Ready Ministries Board Advisor
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God’s love is the most powerful force in the universe, but his forgiveness is not far behind. God’s forgiveness may be just what you need to get a brand-new start in 2023.
It happened last year at this time, but I remember like it was yesterday. On the very day we were expecting our oldest son and his family to visit for Christmas, we returned home from running a few errands and noticed that our laundry room was flooded. Apparently, the hose to the washing machine had become detached, sending water across the entire room to a level of at least an inch. To make matters worse, the water was streaming through a floor vent into the basement area. I ran down into the basement to assess the situation—much worse than I thought. The water streaming into the vent went into air ducts that ran the entire length of our workout room. What a mess!
The only way to determine the full extent of the water leakage was to pull up the rugs and workout mats that covered most of the floor. Bottom line: water was everywhere and still leaking, though more slowly, from the vent ducts in the open ceiling.
The next six hours were backbreaking. We used big sponges and a wet vacuum, managing to retrieve gallons of water. When most of that was done, we set out a series of fans to dry up the floor, rugs, and mats to avoid mold from growing. Twenty-four hours later, everything was dry, and the entire room reassembled. You couldn’t see any evidence of the huge mess that had been there the previous day.
This illustration reminds me of the messes we make. Not messes we can clean up in six hours, but mistakes we have made that require divine assistance. We’ve all made them. 1 John 1:10 speaks about this: “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
Think about the messes people make that become public knowledge. Although I read about these kinds of sins every day in the news, it’s still hard to fathom what human beings do to one another. A man kills his wife and children. A female teenager is kidnapped, raped, and murdered. Drug cartels destroy lives by pedaling drugs like cocaine and fentanyl and kill anyone trying to stop them. An innocent senior is attacked on a city street and left for dead. The list goes one.
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Think a bit further. Public news about sin is just the tip of the iceberg. The messes people make in their private lives, even if never detected, cause irreparable damage—to the individual sinner, to family members, to others, and to our relationship with God. The brokenness through our society runs deep and wide. The evidence is overwhelming. In my lifetime I have never witnessed our country spiraling downward with increasing speed like it is now. Countries throughout the world are no better—many are worse.
Is it any wonder that mental health issues are so pervasive? Are you surprised that depression and suicidal thoughts are commonplace in the greatest democracy in history. It shouldn’t be.
What can we do? Where can we turn? The prophet Isaiah spoke the answer hundreds of years ago.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 1:18-20).
Isaiah was primarily speaking to Judah, the Southern Kingdom. The people had forsaken God and gone their own sinful ways with no let-up in sight. The prophet called them out. Judah needed the Lord’s forgiveness for their evil and rebellious ways. Fortunately, the merciful and gracious God of heaven extended his forgiveness and eventually Judah got back on track.
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Today it’s not only the sin and rebellion that’s eating our lunch. It’s the guilt and shame for what we have done. Human power and wisdom are helpless toward solving this problem. We need forgiveness.
Our Creator wasn’t caught off guard when Adam and Eve sinned. His master plan culminated with sending Jesus, his only son, to die for the sins of the whole world. But salvation from our sins is conditional. We must turn from our sin and follow Jesus. We must accept his work at the Cross. No one else can make that choice for us.
Are you struggling under the weight of unconfessed sin? Do guilt and shame hang over you like a dark cloud that never seems to go away. Do your days run together with these kinds of feelings? Have hope and joy disappeared from your life?
King David wrote about unconfessed sin in his life: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:1-3).
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Friend, it doesn’t have to be this way! God doesn’t want this for your life. He’s waiting for you to seek his forgiveness. All you must do is ask.
Got reservations? Maybe you think you’ve committed the unpardonable sin. Or maybe you know God has forgiven you many times for the same sin, but somehow you keep repeating it.
If you’re experiencing these kinds of thoughts, welcome to the human race! You’re no different from the rest of us. God knows everything about all of us and still offers love, mercy, and grace to anyone who asks with a sincere heart. Confess your sins to God and He will forgive you. That’s his promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
I have dealt with asthma for many years. Most of the time it’s very controllable and I can participate in most any activity to include running. But occasionally my breathing becomes difficult, even to the point of struggling to breathe. That’s a desperate feeling. In these instances, I use an inhaler filled with albuterol. A couple of puffs of albuterol and soon I am once again able to breathe normally. There’s no substitute for that sensation of getting enough clean air into my lungs.
Forgiveness works like that. God’s forgiveness wipes our sins away. The Bible tells us that He separates us from our sins as far as the east is from the west. Guilt and shame are gone. We have a new lease on life. We can take deep breaths and enjoy God’s love, peace, and joy.
2023 is only days away. Don’t carry the burden of unconfessed sin and guilt into the new year. God’s forgiveness can clean your slate and help you get on to a brand-new start.
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Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal, Ret.
Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal was commissioned in 1970 and served 31 years on active duty, 10 as an infantry officer and the remainder as a United States Army chaplain. His line officer experience included a tour in Vietnam as an Infantry Platoon Leader and three assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His final assignment was as the senior chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He retired from active duty in 2005 and served as the Military/VA Representative and Endorser within the Chaplaincy Department for the General Council of the Assemblies of God from 2005-2019. His decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Award, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, and the Army Ranger Tab. His education includes a Master of Business Administration Degree, a Master of Divinity Degree, a Doctor of Ministry Degree, and graduation from The United States Army War College. In recent years, he and his wife have written several Christian devotionals. In addition, Scott co-authored a Christian action-novel and served as the managing editor for the The Warrior’s Bible, an application Bible for the military community. He presently serves as the Executive Liaison for The Warrior’s Journey, a non-profit organization that supports the military community. He’s also a member of the Distinguished Advisory Board for Battle Ready Ministries. He and his wife, Judy, live in Springfield, Missouri, and have 4 children and 12 grandchildren.