Do you have some household items or other things that are being held together with a “field retrofit”? Here, I don’t mean that you took it apart and repaired it internally, or purchased a replacement part for a piece that broke. Instead, I’m talking about those books that only stay together with a generous amount of tape, the shoe soles held on by glue, or that cabinet door that is held in place with a couple of twist-ties! Maybe you have a laptop that would fall apart if it wasn’t for the duct tape, or a pipe with a hole being covered with an aluminum can. (I’ve seen both of these latter cases in my family!)
Since childhood, I have generally been a “tinkerer”: someone who works with small electronics, devices, and gadgets. Whether this meant taking something apart to see how it worked, salvaging parts from a discarded gadget, or repairing a broken toy, I’ve owned a number of things with pry marks at the seams and sometimes “non-original” parts. (I’m the son of a tinkerer, too, and have been trying to pass along that skill to my children.)
I told my Dad when I had to grind down the seats of a leaky faucet, after remembering that he needed to do the same when we – as kids – left the water dripping. I don’t know if it was any consolation for my Mom that the toy(s) I broke when I was a kid (because I took them apart) paid off when I used that knowledge – years later – to fix a toy for one of my sons.
Having said that, no matter how much practice we have, there are situations where more fixes won’t help. When the stuff used to repair an item starts to become more prevalent than the broken device’s original parts, and it takes more time to put something together than it does to actually use it, the time has probably come to buy a new gadget (or phone or car or chair or toy).
Sometimes, we don’t have a choice, and keeping something running well past its design life is an art for those who are frugal. However, some repairs reach a point where our friends are no longer impressed with our skills, and start to poke fun of us for spending more time and money preserving something that needs to be replaced, compared to the cost of just replacing it.
When we broke our relationships with God, there was no amount of “bubble gum and baling wire” that could fix the problem. Every choice that we made to defy God – to rebel against His commandments for us – is called “sin” (or a “transgression”). When we “broke” our lives by deciding to do bad things (i.e., sinning), we became less than He created us to be. Since God is perfect and holy (special and “set apart”), we can’t just expect to go back and hang out with Him. I don’t want to over-simplify things, but it’s kind of like wearing our torn, stinky work clothes to visit the Queen of England (in a spiritual sense). It’s like tracking mud into the kitchen right after another family member worked hard to mop and scrub the floor until it was sparkling. Our sin and God’s “no sin” just don’t fit.
In addition, we can’t just clean ourselves up, and then expect to be restored to being a part of God’s family. Sin doesn’t just make us dirty: it stains us, like week-old tomato stains on a white shirt, or sitting on that rogue blueberry that rolled off of the table during a previous meal.
No amount of soap or lye can make you clean.
I still see the stain of your guilt.
I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!
Jeremiah 2:22 NLT
That’s the ugly part of sin: We might try to cover it up for others, but we cannot hide it from God (or ourselves). We’re stuck with it. We can’t just throw some duct tape on it, or swap out the bad parts of our past choices with good behavior today. Somehow, we need to replace our entire selves with something new.
Let’s take a look at God’s solution to make us new tomorrow. For a sneak-peek, though, read Acts 2:36-41 and Romans 5:6-11. If you have any questions, let me know, or talk with a trusted friend or pastor who has already received a new life in Jesus Christ.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.