"Dark is the Stain!"

“If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all!" Have you ever tried to console yourself with this saying? My misfortune is that if there is a small nail in the roadway, it will find one of my new tires! If I wash my car, it will rain later in the day, even if it was not forecast. And that leads to another example of bad luck at the wheel. If there is a specimen of “road kill,” anywhere, my car will steer toward it like a heat-seeking missile! Bad luck!

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The latest instance of roadway rotten luck happened again today, (I will explain the “again” later.) It was five-thirty in the morning, and I was heading to Vandalia to eat breakfast with my 92-year-old Dad and his oldest grandson (my son, Matt!) at the local eatery. I had just pulled onto the interstate and was momentarily distracted while setting a favorite news-talk station on the radio. As I looked up in the darkness, I thought I saw some raw and bloody roadkill flesh in the headlights. Next thing I knew, I encountered the thump of that distressing matter under my left front wheel.

I quickly processed this accident thinking, “That may have been a skunk, but I sure hope not!” Within seconds, the pungent smell was wafting throughout the cabin burning my eyes while I was gasping for breath at 72 mph! It was "déjà vu all over again!" This same thing had happened to me when I was a teenager returning home on a country road with Dad’s new 1965 Ford Galaxy 500. That night, the misfortune was twice as bad! There were two skunks and until impact both were ambulatory! The horrible result was the same! An unbelievably bad smell!

I thought that taking it to the car wash and using a handheld wand that night would dissipate the smell coming from the wheel wells and under chassis. I took the car home, drove up the drive way and carefully pulled the car under my parents' bedroom in our split-level house. Shortly after getting into bed, Dad appeared at my bedroom door. “Did you run over a skunk tonight?” he inquired. I apologetically answered, “Yes. I’m sorry, but I did wash the car afterwards!” He reached for his keys and said, “That car has to go outside!” And it did… for the next two weeks!  J

This is the Lenten Season on the Christian calendar. Our church in engaged in a special study that we hope will get us ready for Easter. The study is focused on some major doctrines that are often hard to comprehend such as:  substitutionary and ransom atonement, moral example, reconciliation, and spiritual cleansing. The latter is captured in the beloved old hymn: “Dark is the stain we cannot hide. What can avail to wash it away?” (Grace Greater Than Our Sin, Julia Johnson).

In the eyes of God, the stain of our sin is more repulsive and resistant than the skunk's chemical-based secretion. If we consider the skunk's scent so offensive to our olfactory system, image how a holy God is repulsed by the willfulness of our systemic sinning. The dark reality of sin has stubbornly stained humanity since the Fall in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time (Genesis 3). In just two verses, Paul stated the prevalence and serious of our sin problem, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard,” and “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23; 6:23a).

After reminding us of the gravity of sin, Paul gives Good News to those who will allow God to graciously deal with their sin, “But the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ro. 6:23b). This free gift is available to everyone who acknowledges their sin, repents and turns from it and then, invites Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. Here is an incredibly hopeful promise, "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Ro. 10:13, NLT).

Robert Lowry wrote these lyrics that have become a staple hymn during the Lenten season, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!” Amen!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 






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