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The White Shirt

by Ralph

One day, way back when I was in a similar place emotionally as you seem to be, I was sick and tired of being trapped in sin, but could see no way out.

It happened to be that the church I was attending had a 30 day fast going. I skipped deserts for this time and in the last week, I turned off the TV and drank juice and didn’t eat. I expected God to change me forever during this week, so that I would never look at P again.

Instead, bored and alone (I was single at the time), I spent every night remembering all the P that used to be in the apartment and M-ing. I was a complete and utter failure. The last night of the fast, I broke down and sobbed and sobbed to God. I felt so dirty and scummy.

Then after an hour or so, I got up and went to the bathroom. While I was washing my hands, a thought came in my head.

“What color is your shirt?”

It was weird. It wasn’t a booming voice or anything, just this thought that I knew wasn’t from me. I thought “well, it’s greasy and covered in stains.” Again, the “voice.”

“What color is your shirt?”

“Well, it’s black there, where I was changing the oil and there it is orange from a Cheetos stain, and there it is purple, I don’t know what that was, maybe old kool-aid?”

“No, WHAT COLOR IS THE SHIRT?”

Then it dawned on me. My shirt was white. It was stained and dirty and ripped in spots, but it WAS a white shirt. It always was a white shirt and would always be known as a white shirt, no matter how dirty it might get. For a split second, it seemed to glow from within..

So, that’s my great vision. An old tee-shirt is white. Wee…

But it started a process that took a long time to work (not that it is done). See, at that point, it dawned on me that by Christ’s work, my life is like that old white shirt. Sure, I’ve changed the oil in it and smeared Cheetos on it and all that, but it is still a white shirt. I’ve screwed up lots of times and have the stains and scars to prove it in my life. But, deep down, I am a righteous person (white shirt), because that is what I was made to be, through Christ.

That changed me. I started to realize that my life didn’t have to stink and be a never-ending list of failures. I could do more than screw up.

Now, after about 15 years, I still screw up. My shirt has more rips and tears and stains. However, I know my life is God’s glory and workmanship and I am more and more proud of my white shirt (proud as in careful of what I do with it, not proud as in thinking I have anything to do with it being a white shirt and not a black one). Over time, God has washed and bleached my shirt over and over again and some of the stains are fading and I am getting a little better about not using my life as an oil change rag.

However, this isn’t the best news. The best news is that I KNOW without any question that one day, I will be given a new shirt without holes and stains.

So, look for that vision from God. A realization that just because your life is messed up, doesn’t mean you have to act like you did yesterday today. See, once you see that your life is special and glorious because of Jesus, you can start living each day that way. Sure, you might screw up, but, you might also get it right….

-Ralph