Shoe Polish Mixed With Grace

“Get your Sunday shoes and come in the kitchen.” My Mom instructed me one Saturday morning when I was about six years old. After watching my older brother demonstrate how to polish shoes, it was to be my turn. I dug in the closet and found the scuffed-up hand-me-down shoes I wore to church on Sundays. I went into the kitchen and saw some newspaper spread neatly on the floor and top of those was a bottle of black, liquid shoe polish and my older brother’s freshly polished shoes. He had the new shoes.“Make sure you keep your shoes on the newspaper,” Mom said, “Take your time and don’t get in a hurry. Holler if you need help.” Mom started to leave the kitchen then turned around and said. “Maybe you should just sit on the newspaper with your shoes.” She added as she left to work on her laundry and check on my younger brother and sister.
“Okay.” I said. I knelt down and sat one shoe on my knee and the other one on the paper. I picked up the polish and rubbed it on the toe of my shoe like I had seen my brother do. Mom peeked at me several times I noticed and then disappeared. The polish oozed out and soon I had a pair of reasonably polished Sunday shoes sitting next to my brother’s. As I sat the shoe polish down I thought of my scuffed up basketball. It used to have black bands around it but the black had worn off. Full of new found self-confidence I looked at the shoe polish and decided I had a good idea. I went out on the back porch and picked up my basketball and came back in the kitchen. I picked up the bottle of shoe polish and tried to carefully spread the shoe polish in the grooves where the black bands went. But something went wrong. The more I tried to be careful the more the ball rolled around and the more the polish ran down the side of the basketball.I tried to twist the ball so the polish wouldn’t drip on the floor but it rolled away and smeared polish on the kitchen floor. I became more determined and sat down carefully on the newspaper and sat the dripping basketball on my lap. I picked up the shoe polish bottle again and tried once more to fill in the black lines but it was hopeless. The shoe polish ran all over and I decided the only thing I could do was to try and spread it out over the whole basketball. Soon I had shoe polish all over my hands, my pants and t-shirt, my basketball and the newspaper and some spots on the kitchen floor where the ball had rolled away.
I knew I was in trouble and I was ready to cry, anticipating the scolding and maybe spanking I would get. I was just about to get up and run outside when my Dad walked in from the back porch.“Paul Michael what are you doing?!” Dad scolded.I cringed and gave the answer I always gave when I got into trouble. “I don’t know.”“Maybe your Mom should see this.” Dad said as he called her in. Mom looked at me and the floor and my shirt and pants and hands and she sighed.“You were only supposed to polish your shoes.” Mom said with exasperation in her voice.“I wanted to fix my basketball.” I said meekly looking down at the soggy mess on my lap.Dad started to laugh and I looked up at him. And then Mom started laughing too. “Don’t move!” Dad said. He grabbed some rags off the back porch and came and took the basketball off of my lap. I never saw it again.Next, Dad picked me up and carried me outside. He took another rag and some turpentine and tried to clean the shoe polish off of my hands and face. “That’s about as good as I can get it.” He said with a smile as he wiped my skin. “The rest will have to wear off.” He helped me out of my stained pants and shirt and then told me to go climb in the bathtub. “But don’t touch anything!” I looked up at him, expecting him to say what kind of punishment I’d have but he just took my shirt and pants and the rags and put them in the trash. He seemed to be smiling and I didn’t know what to think. I walked from the backyard to the house in just my underwear feeling ashamed.As I went through the kitchen Mom was on her hands and knees, scrubbing shoe polish off of the floor. I felt awful seeing her working so hard to clean up the mess I made. Pretty soon she came in the bathroom and ran hot water and scrubbed me down. She was humming as she dried me off with a towel and then she said with a smile, “Next time you get one of your ideas, you ask me first. Okay?”“Okay.” I said. The next time I had to polish my shoes, Mom watched me the whole time. But all I did was polish my shoes and I was as careful as I could be.Mom and Dad showed me grace that day, like God shows us. And it made me in awe of them, and made me love them more. I didn’t obey my parents and made a big mess, yet, they cleaned up my mess and taking pity on me, forgave me. The Lord God shows us His Grace through the work of Jesus on the cross. He does the work of cleaning not only us but the impossible messes we make of our lives and then He restores us to a loving relationship with Him. And how could we not be thankful and love Him back? Yet God, in His Grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3.25 NLT

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