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Better than Wite-Out

The Life Less Traveled

September 18, 2013
The best part about getting older is that you remember things that don't exist anymore, like 8-track tapes, black-and-white TVs and wooly mammoths. Of course, you can still find a few of these on Amazon or E-bay, but, for the first most part, they're extinct.

Every once in a while, though, I stumble onto something in this category that I thought I was long gone but turns out to be alive and kicking. The latest relic I've discovered is correction fluid. Wite-Out. Liquid paper. It's still around.

For you youngsters who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain. A long, long time ago, our computers didn't have screens or processors or batteries. They just had keys and spools of ribbon drenched in ink. We called them typewriters.

They came in pretty handy, except for one problem. They didn't have a delete key, at least the old ones didn't. If you typed an entire page flawlessly but messed up the last letter, you had to wad it up and throw it away.

But, fortunately, back in the '50s, a desperate typist whipped up some special white paint in her blender and, voila, correction fluid was born. If you made a typo, you could just dab some of this stuff on the paper and blow on it until it dried or you passed out from the fumes. Once you woke up, you could just type back over it again.

Of course, if you put it on too thick, it would peel off the paper like a scab, exposing your mistakes. If you put in on too thin, you could still see through it. If you didn't wait long enough for it to dry, you'd end up with a gunky mess all over your keys.

However, if you got it just right, it looked as if you'd never made a mistake, except for the big blob of white crud that you still see as plain as day.

Through the years, they invented more sophisticated products, like correction paper and correction tape. It tidied up the process. But all that really did was cover up the typo more efficiently. The mistake was still there underneath.

Then came the word processor, and everything changed. With a computer, all you had to do was hit "delete," print your document, and the typo was truly gone for good. It wasn't just covered up. It wasn't just erased. It never even made it to the page.

I'm sure there are those of you who love correction fluid. I don't know if you're just using it for handwritten stuff or if you're applying it directly to your computer screens, but, hey, whatever floats your boat. If that's you, more power to you.

As for me, I believe there's a huge difference between covering up a mistake and completely eradicating it. It's true for documents and truer still for matters of faith.

I look back at my own life and see page after page riddled with typos I wish I could do over, whole chapters that I'd love to wad up and throw away. But my own sloppy attempts to deal with my sin and selfishness are no better than globs of correction fluid splattered across the page. I can never be good enough to undo what's been done. Neither can you.

Yet, God's love is even more revolutionary than the word processor. He's the God who said, "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow." (Isaiah 1:18 NLT) Not just covered up. Completely clean. Gone for good.

Somehow, because of the cross, Jesus has the ability to eradicate our mistakes. If every scene of your life is recorded in some great cosmic book, there are moments, because of Jesus, that will never even make it to the page.

So, if you're haunted by regret or feel embarrassed about the choices you've made, take heart. God has something better than Wite-Out, even better than a delete key. He has a key marked "grace," and it changes everything.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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