Friday, September 16, 2011


Mistakes are made by most everything on earth. Humans are especially susceptible to mistakes, since we probably reason better than most animals. Mistakes are going to happen and we all should be ready to admit when we have made one.

I make mistakes all the time. Sometimes I forget things, do them incorrectly, or hurt others feelings. If you were in the worship service Sunday, you know I made a huge mistake. As I was preparing everyone for the time of response at the end of the message, I intended to call Matt, our interim Minister of Music, to the platform to lead us in the hymn of response. However, instead of calling "Matt," I called him by the name of our former Associate Pastor. Not only did I make a mistake, but I made it publicly and did it with something that was so obvious!

I don't embarrass easily. There's not much that rattles me. I have made mistakes from the pulpit before and was able to salvage them. This time, it took me a minute to get myself together and I was thoroughly embarrassed.

The unfortunate thing about our mistakes is that we usually leave behind an impression. The impression might be good or it might be bad, but we always make an impression. The impression that I may have left is that I wasn't paying attention or was being careless. Maybe you simply regarded it for what it was, an innocent error. Regardless of your position, I left behind an impression.

I read an article, some time ago, about an owl that accidentally flew into a window in Leicestershire, England. During the night, Nancy and Ray Pearce were sleeping soundly. When they awoke, there was a perfect imprint of an owl on their patio door. It seems that the owl had flown into the glass door during the night. When he slammed into the glass, there was an explosion of “powder down” which is produced by an owl's feathers. This produced a perfect picture of the owl in mid-flight right down to the beak, eyes, and ears.  "It's incredible," said Mr. Pearce. "The imprint really captured what the owl looks like.”

The owl obviously lived since there was no dead owl on the Pearce's patio. He probably shook his head after he crashed into the door and took a long look around to see who was watching. After making sure that none of his owl friends saw the fiasco, he flew off confident that nobody would be making fun of him down at the owl lodge later. Little did he know that he left behind a perfect image of his error.

Sometimes the mistakes that we make in our walk with God are public for everyone to see. Those are easy to atone for. We know that everyone knows of our error, we ask forgiveness and move on. But what about the mistakes we make when there's no one around? What do we do then? Do we simply look around to see if anyone saw us and then fly off confident in our self-centered thought that we hurt nobody but ourselves?

Our mistakes leave an impression on others whether we know it or not. Even if we do seem to be able to get away from our wrongdoing in private, God still sees and knows. Cain literally thought he got away with murder when he wiped out a fourth of the population one afternoon. However, God knew that Cain had killed his brother. “His eyes are on the ways of men; He sees their every step. There is no dark place, no deep shadow, where evildoers can hide.” (Job 34:21-22)

The good news to all of this is that what God sees and knows, he also forgives. This is not just a lip service kind of forgiveness like our human variety. It is an all encompassing, thorough, completely liberating, forgiveness. Psalm 103:12 reads “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us”.

Perhaps you think you have made mistakes that nobody else knew about. Maybe you have carried that guilt around like a wet blanket because you feel that you cannot tell anyone about your secret mistake. You can be free from that guilt, because God has seen your every step and still loves you. He will forgive, if you will only ask.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

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