Advent is ending. Well, technically not until January sixth according to some, but this season is drawing to a close. I like to think that Advent’s parting gift is the gift of a clean slate. This is something I desire more than anything else – a clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning, a do-over, past offenses erased, no debt held against me, nothing holding me back. I can write on the slate whatever I want. There is nothing already written on this clean slate to prevent me from writing something new.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? At this point I should point out that this phrase “clean slate” refers to the slate chalkboards that were used in schools not all that long ago. They had to be wiped clean at the end of each school day so that new work and words of instruction could be written on the board for the next school day. Each school day started with a clean slate, so to speak. Yesterday’s mistakes were erased and forgotten. Every student started the day with a clean slate. (students often had individual slates in the 1800’s) Today, I prefer a white board and dry erase markers (no chalk dust), but the concept remains the same, whether it’s a blank white board or a clean slate.
Either way, it sounds too good to be true. How can I ever be free of my past mistakes and hurts and offenses – both those against me and those I have done to others? A clean slate seems an impossible, unattainable, highly unlikely gift to receive for Christmas or for New Year’s or for any time of the year, for that matter. I can’t wipe my own slate clean and others don’t seem willing to or aren’t able to grant me a clean slate either. And so my slate remains full of past regrets and offenses, while continuing to accumulate more and more as time passes. As long as my slate remains full of past mistakes, full of yesterday’s issues, there is no room for me to write anything new on it today.
I so want to receive this last gift of Advent, the gift of a clean slate. But how? I recall these words from Isaiah,
” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” (Isaiah 1:18)
That kind of sounds like the promise of a clean slate to me. How about you, dear readers? King David was someone who desperately wanted a clean slate, a do-over, a second chance. He knew where to go to ask for this gift. David knew there was only One who could give him this miracle of a clean slate. And that’s exactly what a clean slate is, dear readers, it is nothing short of a miracle. David cried out to God,
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. . . . Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. . . . Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:1-10)
As it turns out, the miraculous gift of a clean heart and of a clean slate are gifts God desires to give to anyone who would draw near to Him and ask, simply ask. Consider what God’s word says,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19)
” ‘I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. . . . they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’ ” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:10-14)
This is all such good news! The gift of a clean slate is mine for the asking from my Heavenly Father. In fact in Isaiah I read,
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” (Isaiah 30:18)
There’s that word compassion again. It seems that compassion is the eraser necessary to wipe away all my offenses, all my sin and leave me with a clean slate, ready to begin again. Romans 8:1-2 reassures me saying,
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
No condemnation – that is the gift the clean slate gives. My Heavenly Father has given me the gift of a clean slate. And just like the school chalkboards, I receive this gift new every morning.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
I am so grateful and glad that my Heavenly Father is a God of second chances, of multiple do-overs, of infinite mercy and forgiveness towards me, no matter how dirty my slate gets. It is God’s mercy and forgiveness that washes it clean every morning, every time I bring it to Him and ask, just like David did when he cried out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”
Today I am thinking, since God does this for me – forgives my offenses against Him, does not hold them against me but forgets them and gives me another chance, shouldn’t I be offering this gift of a clean slate to others, to those who have hurt me or trespassed against me? If God keeps no record of wrong, why should I? As God grants each of us clean slates, shouldn’t we be doing this for each other on a daily basis? When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Jesus answered him,
“I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)
This number was a reference to infinity, meaning there was no limit on the number of times forgiveness could be given. God is merciful to me without limit. Since God’s supply of mercy to me is infinite, I can be merciful towards others without fear of running out. As we read, “His mercies are new every morning.”
So Happy New Year world! The Creator of the universe, who gives me my clean slate, wants to give you a clean slate too! My Heavenly Father is offering you, you sad and troubled world, and every single person living in you, this gift of a clean slate – a new beginning, a fresh start, a do-over, a second chance, forgiveness of your sins and reconciliation with Him. This gift is yours for the asking.
My gift to you today world, is what I have received from my Heavenly Father – a clean slate. I will not hold your offenses against you, but will give you the second chance that I so desire for myself. Just imagine – if we all gave the gift of clean slates to each other, how different would this world be? No longer the world of the offended, the aggrieved, the angry, the vengeful – but a world where compassion, mercy and forgiveness wash all these wrongs away and peace prevails.
perhaps the gifts of a clean slate are peace and hope – and what better gifts to give the world than peace and hope on this New Year’s Day?
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. . . . In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! (hope) I have overcome the world.” (John 14:27 & John 16:33)
wishing you the gift of a clean slate complete with peace and hope,
sincerely, Grace Day