Thursday

I was a thief.

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I was a thief. 

We all have a checkered past, and this is part of mine. It was not a crime of opportunity. Oh no. It was premeditated and carefully orchestrated. Flawlessly, I might add. 

If I hadn’t confessed, no one would have ever known. 

Like many of my 5th grade friends, I was a regular customer at the pharmacy that stood between school and home. Some days we’d stop for a candy bar or a bag of chips, but my purchase always included a handful of Bazooka bubble gum. At two cents each, they were a bargain in any economy.

 As I dropped my school bag on the floor beside the counter, I squatted to reach into the bin of bubble gum. In my crouched position, I was completely hidden from the cashier’s view. I realized I could easily stuff a handful of bubble gum in my bag and never be seen. I passed on the opportunity, paid for my candy, and left, but the idea remained. 

I returned the next day to do the deed. 

By this point in my narrative, you’re probably thinking, “If this is the biggest sin she’s got on her conscience, she needs to get a life .” Sadly, this isn’t the biggest sin I’ve committed, but I’m sharing it today to make a point. 

I became a Christian eight years after this experience. When I surrendered my life to Christ and began to study my Bible, an interesting thing happened. I began to remember the sins I had committed in my “before Christ” life. Stealing the bubble gum was one of many.

Burdened with guilt, shame, and regret, I sought counsel from a wise friend. She shared 1 John 1:9, which taught me, “If we confess our sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” She taught me to daily confess my sins to God, forsake them, and ask God to help me not repeat them. “If your sin has hurt another person,” she said, “ask their forgiveness too, and do whatever you can to make it right.” 

“But what about the sins I committed long ago?” I asked her. 

“God forgives those, too,” she said kindly. 


One day after I asked God to reveal any sin in my life, he reminded me of the Bazooka bubble gum heist. I confessed my theft and asked God to forgive and cleanse me. I thought that should have settled it, but oh, no, God had other ideas. 

“You should confess your sin to the pharmacy manager, too,” he said, “and ask him to forgive you. Tell him you’re a Christian now, and as best you know how, you’re trying to live in a way that honors God. Then make restitution for the gum you stole.” 

“But God,” I said, “That pharmacy is 1,000 miles away. I don’t even LIVE there anymore!” 

“Then write a letter.” 

“That’s silly, Lord,” I said, “what is that man going to think when he reads a letter from a woman who lives 1,000 miles away and stole six pieces of chewing gum 10 years ago?”

 “It doesn’t matter what he thinks,” God whispered to my heart, “what matters is what I think.”

Someone once said that being nagged is like being nibbled to death by a duck. Well, the Holy Spirit nagged me until I finally surrendered. 

I wrote the letter and confessed my crime. 

I also shared the story of my conversion and how I had confessed my thieving ways to God and received forgiveness. “Now,” I wrote humbly, “I’d like to ask you to forgive me too. I’m enclosing a dollar (adjusted for inflation) to make restitution for the gum I stole.” I enclosed a tract that shared the gospel.

And I signed my name. 

God’s never nibbled me over this sin again. 

I was forgiven and free. 

I’ve followed these steps many times over the years. They apply to big sins, like driving a friend to an abortion clinic when I was a teenager, and “small” sins like disrespecting my parents and being lazy. Sometimes my confession and request for forgiveness is kindly received; other times it’s been difficult. Each time, I ask God for courage to do what he’s calling me to do. 

What sin(s) from your past do you still struggle with? Have you ever called them by name, confessed and forsaken them, and allowed God to cleanse you? If you’ve sinned against another person, do you need to ask their forgiveness and make restitution if necessary? One of the greatest testimonies of God’s redeeming work in the world is a transformed life. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (1 Corinthians 5:17).

14 comments:

  1. Kim Jackson8:43 AM

    Great message, needed reminder, and so well written, to boot! Thank you, Lori!

    Kim Jackson
    www.wowdeewow.com

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  2. I had similar situations where I had been really mean to some kids as a teenager, became a Christian a few years later and felt like garbage for what I had done. I had no idea where those people were to even begin to apologize, but I prayed for them over the years. Then Facebook came along. The Holy Spirit nagged me until I wrote my apologies. The first one I wrote out in my journal, but hesitated to send it (I hadn't made contact with the guy on FB yet) then four days after I wrote it, he friended me. That was a clear sign that I needed to send it. After that I sent two more apologies to other people. Two out of three didn't even remember the situations, but one of them thanked me and said she felt inspired to apologize to some of the people that she had hurt. The weight was lifted too. And that felt good.

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  3. GailBP11:44 AM

    Saw others recommending this devotion on FB, and I wasn't disappointed. I may link some of my devotions on confession to this devotion in the future, if you don't mind, Lori. It's so well written and powerful. Thanks, Gail

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  4. Lori, God did the same thing to me when He called me to a deeper life with Him! I had to write to a former employer and confess that I hadn't really looked for a job while I was collecting unemployment--30 years earlier! But He wouldn't let it end there, either. He prompted me to send the money back to the unemployment office in my state--30 years after the dirty deed.


    I also had to write a letter of apology to someone to whom I had been extremely unkind. Yes, she started it all with what she did to me, but God showed me that I had not been Light to her. She had married, moved away, and I didn't even know for sure what her last name was or where she lived. I had to track down her name and address and send her a letter. She never responded. But once that letter was sent, I was released from any further responsibility.



    God has a way of shining the light on our sin, even decades later. But the release is so worth it!

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  5. lorihatcher11:20 PM

    I’d be honored to tag along, Gail. J

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  6. lorihatcher11:22 PM

    Kate,



    It is priceless to feel forgiven and free, regardless of the response we get from those we confess to. And there’s nothing like being “nibbled” by the Holy Spirit. I’d do just about anything to be free from that! Thanks for commenting.

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  7. This is so beautiful and encouraging. It is humbling but freeing to apologize for past wrongs, also for present wrongs.

    When I was in my teens, I once knew a gal who was a controlling person and always making up reasons to be angry with people (and she was always angry with people). I had done nothing wrong but she was mad anyway, so I apologized. She said "I refuse to forgive you and now you're in trouble with God." I said, "No I'm not. God only says that I am to ask for forgiveness, which I did. You won't accept it, that's YOUR problem. YOU have to deal with God on that. I am free!"

    Once my youngest messed up a bathroom in a store by messing with the toilet paper. I found out about it and we drove back to the store and I took him in to apologize to the store clerk (a young guy).

    My seven year old apologized to the guy, and offered to go clean up his mess and to buy more toilet paper. The guy was very sweet about it, but he brushed it off by saying stuff like "It's no big deal. It doesn't matter. You didn't hurt anything so you don't need to apologize." I stood behind my son shaking my head at the man and quietly said "It IS a big deal. We don't destroy property" and stuff like that.

    The guy finally caught on with what I was doing and told my son that yes, it was a problem and that he shouldn't have done it, but that he was forgiven. Afterward I thanked the man and told him that I was trying to teach my children responsibility for their actions and I thanked him for not letting my son off the hook so easily.

    Thank you so much for linking up to "Making Your Home Sing Monday" today!

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  8. Nan, These are terrific examples of exactly what I wrote about. It's amazing how many people, in their desire to be gracious, I'm sure, that want to let our children off the hook for dishonesty. By the same token, as in your first example, some people have an equally hard time with forgiveness. Too strict, too lenient, oh, for the center of biblical tension! Thanks for stopping by today and for sharing your sweet blogging community :)

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  9. Vonda, your examples are a glorious testimony of how God doesn't allow us to harbor sin in our hearts, even if we've "forgotten" it. He wants us to be pure vessels with as little guilt and baggage as possible. And you're absolutely right -- "the release is SO worth it!" I think we'll never know this side of heaven everything God accomplishes through our obedience, but it is a treat every now and then when he lets us see a bit of his work.

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  10. Kimberly Amici9:59 AM

    The Holy Spirit is wonderful like that, isn't he? When we are ready be brings things to the surface so we can ask for forgiveness and be healed.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Sarah Coller4:29 PM

    Isn't it funny how the Holy Spirit keeps nagging us! Like when I want to stop reading this post because it's too convicting but He makes me press on... Ha! :) Thanks for linking up! Blessings to you today!

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  12. John 5:14 Jesus tells us that once we have been forgiven and made whole; we must stop sinning lest something worse comes upon us. Phi. 2:12 tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. John 9:31 and Isaiah 59:2 tells us that God doesn't hear a sinner pray untl they pray the pray asking for forgiveness they repent and turn from their sin. So important that we pray for our lost family and friends because God is not listening to them . There are many sins; even good people will be in hell if they do not recieve salvation from God through Jesus Christ. Amen. I am thankful that when i was lost; Christians were praying for me because I know God was not listening to me at that time. I have a friend who is gay. I will always love him and lift him in prayer because I want Him to receive salvation and to to Heaven and right now he is not reaching out to God for forgiveness and he is not ready to repent and change his ways. I am praying that he will before his life is taken. . because we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Read the papers the obituaries watch the news. people are dying in wrecks, of sickness. it is so important to seek God today. today is the day of salvation halleluljah!! Eternity is a long time. heaven is real and hell is real. Great websites for counceling and prayer include www.intouch.org and www.joycemeyerministries.org God bless you all. sister janie

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    1. Janie, you're right that we must come to God in humble repentance, seeking forgiveness before we seek his blessings. I'm joining you in prayer for your friend. Don't stop praying for him. You can read the wonderfully amazing story of how God saved someone out of a homosexual lifestyle who was very special to me Here on my blog. http://lori-benotweary.blogspot.com/2014/03/how-god-used-hiv-to-save-him.html May it encourage you to keep speaking the truth in love to your friend.

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  13. Nan; your comment about teaching your little boy about responsibility was awesome!!

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