“…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Philipians 3:13b
I volunteer at a thrift shop that benefits my children’s school and my job is to ‘merchandise’, or in other words creatively display the donations out on the sales floor. Early last spring as I was poking through items in the back room I came across a few things that looked a bit familiar but I kind of wrote it off as coincidental. I continued to search through the donations only to find several other things that looked very familiar. Unfortunately these familiar items were very real reminders of my sinful past, as a result the thrift shop suddenly became a mine field of memories, shame, and hurt. These items, which I had picked out for other purposes years ago, were once again in my hands and it hit me straight in the gut; I was just sick. As hot tears surfaced I think I actually said out loud to God “Really?….are You really going to have me display this stuff? Honestly, there are a dozen other thrift shops these items could have been donated to!” For about 8 weeks as these donations were on display I really dreaded going to the store as it was fresh and too personal of a reminder of my past. (Thankfully due to my creative merchandising and very good pricing, these items sold relatively quickly.)
Somewhere in that time frame, again while I was rummaging through donations, I came across a weathervane. Actually, just half of one. I am guessing it came from an Applebee’s or Fridays… as some restaurant donated a couple boxes of oddities that used to hang on their walls. Anyways, it was the East to West portion of the weathervane. I assumed the north/south part would surface eventually so I just pushed it off to the side. From week to week I would continue to come across the East and West, but not it’s counterpart. Then one Saturday the song ‘East to West’ from Casting Crowns came on the radio at the store and as I was listening to the words the weathervane came to mind. I raced back to where I had last seen it and thought that since there are enough other things here that remind me of my sins, this was going to serve as my reminder that my sins are gone…as far as the east is from the west. When I found it, I bought it and brought it home where I displayed it in my garden. For a whole year, whenever I would enter my house, I would see this wonderful reminder that I am forgiven and my sins are no more.
Well…a month or so ago, just after the last snow melted (yes, it really was that recent), as I was poking around my garden looking for the first signs of growth, I noticed my weathervane was gone. I assumed it must have fallen off it’s pole, but after searching around some bushes, under our deck, and asking the kids, it just wasn’t anywhere to be found. What an odd thing for someone to take, as I assumed at this point some person must have nabbed it. I was disappointed. This charming little momento with the green patina that weathervanes often get that I unearthed during a particularly difficult time…that helped me remember that my sins are forgiven and that they are no longer held against me (at least by God)… and that they have been scattered as far as the east as from the west, was gone.
After stewing about it for a short while and not long after I started reading Charles Swindoll’s book “Grace Awakening”, God brought to mind the question “why do you need something to remind you that your sins are gone? Marilou, I want you to live as freely as if they never took place (not to say the hurt caused by my sin gets minimized). I want you to live in the freedom of My grace. My rich, loving, abundant grace.” So, as special as that tangible reminder was for that period of time, God is leading my thoughts in a new direction. So…as far as the east is from the west, so are my sins… and my weathervane.
PS…Last week I found another little something at the thrift shop…it’s a garden decor item and on the front of it is written the word Grace. I’m going to keep it inside for now.