Several months ago, I got into painting rocks. Pandemic does weird things, but I love that it has forced new creative outlets into my life.
I had written a rock activity into the virtual mission trip for the students, and then we added it into Neighbors Week at North Cross a couple months later. The idea came when I was trying to think of creative ways to leave positive messages around a neighborhood. I wanted to make people smile as they were going on walks. Give them a reason to think of something silly or see beauty in something that had started out dirty.
What I didn’t expect was how much I would love painting rocks.
My nephew and I sat down at the table and started painting the rocks. His much more abstract, and mine more tropical focused to begin with. I’m a photographer by passion and had never used acrylic before. I’d never before been in control of how the paint reacted to each other and the layers it could create on each small canvas.
Then we walked around the neighborhood with my sister-in-law and placed are rocks around the block. Over the next days, we would walk and check on our rocks to see which were still there and which had been carried off into a new home to hopefully bless someone else.
We laughed and giggled at what had been created.
Our rocks were cute, silly, and whimsical.
But what if they had not been?
What if they had carried my fear, sin, and anger written out for all to see?
When the neighbors saw them, would they have felt their own fear, sin, and anger?
Would they have been disgusted?
Would rumors have circled the neighborhood as people focused on pointing to my faults and sins, instead of acknowledging their own?
Would they have started ‘ranking’ the sin, and determining theirs a lesser sin than my own?
Would they have been grateful that someone else was taking the focus instead of anyone judging their fear, sin, and anger?
Would it have outcasted me?
Friends, God never looks at us like that when he views our fear, sin, and anger. Instead, God says, ‘Here, let me take that…just gonna give that a big toss into the deepest part of the ocean right there and never look at it again.’ I also imagine this with a quiet, compassionate smile that invokes acceptance and unconditional love in the face of my junk.
Where is the god who can compare with you—wiping the slate clean of guilt, turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins-to the bottom of the ocean. [Micah 7:18-19 MSG]
Despite myself, God’s forgiveness is never held back or held hostage for me. It is ever flowing, ever present, ever available. No sink ranked. Sin is sin, and none of us have the right to judge the other. Just like any rock…it is at the bottom of the ocean.
Despite myself, I am forgiven.