Put it behind you…

map with a blue dot
My son was traveling back home yesterday, and I kept sending him texts asking “Where are you now?” In response, he sent me a map. It meant nothing to me (because I didn’t look at it closely). After he sent me a map again following a second “where are you now?” query, I typed, “What is this map supposed to be depicting?” No answer. Then a half hour later, I asked again, “Where are you?” A couple minutes later, after looking more closely at the map, I saw the dot. “Are you the big blue dot?” On this small map depicting part of the state of Florida, this child of mine was merely a dot on a highway leading home, a dot I easily overlooked. The incidents in our lives — such as sin or mistakes — are mere dots on a line of eternity. (Oh, and Adam wasn’t answering because he put his phone on airplane mode to save battery. He obviously thought the map sufficient communication for his mama.

I woke up this morning well before my alarm with a mistake on my mind. It wasn’t a sin, exactly, but it brought to mind a blog post about sin — and living beyond it. It was a post that I wrote a long time ago titled “A dot on the line of eternity…” Yesterday I made a mistake. It was an accident, an oversight in which I offended someone. I apologized, of course. I even asked forgiveness and received it, along with a smile and a sense of “normalcy” with that person. But despite my immediate action to make the situation right, I got caught in the emotional downward spiral of my error, intended or not. I thought this message about “not letting a dot define my life” — be it a sin of choice or a simple mistake — was a needed lesson and an appropriate one. In this Christmas season, I think it is good to remember that the whole of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, has its ultimate purpose and its end in God’s love and forgiveness. I need to treat a dot like a dot…

I heard that someone somewhere sinned, and my heart went out to that someone. (I speak in very general terms here to protect that someone’s identity.) Truly, I could just as easily say that everyone everywhere sinned. Having felt that pain (since I am clearly part of that everyone), my heart goes out with this message:

This sin, this spot, this blemish is just a dot on the line of eternity, which is your life. Don’t make it a defining moment.

Our sin doesn’t define who we are, though Satan would like to make us think so. He wants nothing more than for us to dwell on the sin — whether it is with regret, guilt, condemnation or an attempt to defend it — because that keeps us from moving on in the forgiveness and freedom we have in Christ.

The Bible says, that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1,2).

Can I hear a big “whew!”?

In church on Sunday, the speaker started his talk about our purpose in life with Acts 13:36, a rather obscure verse that starts like this, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep…”

The speaker’s point was that God had a purpose for David, and He also has a purpose for us in our generation. But I took something else away. David wasn’t perfect. We remember him not only as the singing shepherd boy, the slingshot-wielding giant killer, the Psalm writer, and the dancing, victorious king but also as an adulterer and murderer. The story starting in 2 Samuel 11 tells how David seduced Bathsheba and then sent her husband Uriah to certain death in battle so she would be free to marry him.

To a girl who in her teen-age years believed that the “unforgivable sin” was sex outside of marriage (and that a birth control pill was an aspirin held between the knees, as explained by my father), David’s sex sin — and murder — was a big deal. A huge deal. And yet his sin, too, was a dot on the line of eternity (a well-publicized dot, mind you, but still a dot).

And while David did suffer consequences — true repentance followed by the death of the baby born as a product of the affair — he and his new wife, Bathsheba, later gave birth to another baby, Solomon, who then became the wisest king of Israel (though he, too, had women issues — if you consider 700 wives and 300 concubines an issue). David clearly wasn’t perfect, yet God made it clear that David had served His purpose.

Too often my sin, my failing is like a rough place on my fingernail. It seems to catch on everything — nicking clothing or running pantyhose. It’s just a tiny imperfection, but it has the power to do great damage. But if I just file it away or clip it off, it loses its power.

In the same way, we need to clip off the power of our sin. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We are free from condemnation, free to walk in forgiveness, free to serve God’s purpose.

A popular book is titled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life. That sin or failing is small stuff, just a dot on the line of eternity.

And from God’s perspective, it’s most likely a microscopic dot, not a defining moment.

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