When my family returned from serving as missionaries in the Middle East we moved to South Carolina for a short time. We rented a house and for the first time in my short life I had a separate room from my brother.
It was also around this time that I discovered the public library and the wide variety of books available on subjects that interested me — subjects like martial arts.
I checked out every book in the library on karate and judo and brought them home to my private room where I looked at the pictures and practiced for several days. I learned the basic “horse stance” and the “forward stance.” I learned how to place my weight on my back foot and move forward into a punch. I learned some sort of flying double kick and how to kick high with my feet over my head and how to curl my toes up so I wouldn’t break them.
From the judo books I learned that if I grabbed my opponent just right I could flip him over my head, even if he was bigger than I was. My brother was my first victim.
“Mitch, pretend you’re wrestling with me,” I said. “Lock arms like this.” When we had locked arms and were head to head, I explained and demonstrated at the same time that all I had to do was let go with my right arm, swing it under his right arm while still holding onto his left arm and use my back to fling him up into the air, over my head and flat onto his back. He landed with a great crash, and as he regained his wind and decided how to respond, I fled into my room and locked the door, exhilarated that the move actually worked and worked well.
From that day forward my brother was unwilling to serve as my sparring partner. So I needed a punching bag or something of the sort for practice. Since I had no hope of acquiring a punching bag I made do with what was available to me — namely, my bedroom wall. Judo is pretty useless with a wall, but for karate a wall could still be helpful.
After my first kick dented the wall slightly I should have guessed that sheet rock was not all that strong; but I reasoned that since you could hardly see them, small dents were harmless enough. My nearly perfected flying kick, however, sent my bare foot clear through the first layer of sheet rock.
Despite being shocked at my martial arts prowess my mind was still clear enough to recognize that a poster, which hung on my door, would look far better covering the spot I had just smashed in the wall.
Several months later it was time for us to leave South Carolina to move to Iowa. Since we were leaving a rented house we packed and cleaned carefully for the next occupants. I finished clearing my room and generously chose to leave a valuable donation to the next kid who would occupy my room: a superbly placed poster of an Egyptian mummy.
My father came to inspect my cleaning and right away noticed the only thing left in the room. “Jeff, are you going to leave your poster here?”
“Yes, I think I will.”
“I don’t think so. Let’s take it down,” said my dad as he walked over and took down the poster revealing my past deed. I truthfully confessed what had happened and then my dad patched and painted the wall, which looked as if nothing had ever happened.
I fear that sometimes we convince ourselves that time will eventually erase our sins or that if a sin was committed 10, 20, 50, 90 years ago, that God has forgotten about it. I don’t find that concept in the Bible. In fact, the verses that come to mind are Numbers 32:23, where God says that we can be sure our sins will find us out, and Ecclesiastes 12:14, which tells us that God will bring every deed into judgment, both good and evil, even every hidden thing.
No pretty poster can cover up even an ancient sin. No number of good deeds can eradicate a bad deed. Only one thing will save us from one day facing our past misdeeds, and that is to confess them to God so that he can forgive them and cover them as though they had never happened.
It’s true that God’s Word is clear that the wages of sin is death; however, God is equally clear about what happens if we will confess: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
JEFF SCOGGINS pastors the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brainerd.