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    by Susan McGrath

"Sidewalk Chalk Sins"
Date Posted: April 17, 2004

My kids have accumulated a lot of sidewalk chalk. The most recent came in their Easter baskets -- mini buckets with 30 colors! Sometimes it ends up on the front walk (since we don't have a back one), but many times my seven-year-old, especially when it's cold and he's bored, will beg to use it in the basement.

Our basement is far from "finished", with old brick walls and a concrete floor. Best of all, when we get a good steady rain the water trickles in and washes off the floor so he can start fresh again.

I was thrilled with the idea of him covering the basement floor in pastels. Better there than the front porch where other people will see it and it will get tracked in! But I noticed a few months ago that my neighbor had not been so fortunate in convincing her daughter to write where it wouldn't show.

The neighbor I refer to has a huge, century-old brick Victorian home on top of the hill. It's on the National Register of Historic Places and often out-of-towners will stop to view it or take a picture. It's beautiful and they have improved an already nice property since moving there.

The sidewalk chalk incident involved their five-year-old daughter drawing all over the brick walls of the front porch. As I drove by one morning and noticed it for the first time, I found it amusing. My husband commented on it later that evening, noting that a certain five-year-old might be in trouble. I agreed that might be the case, but then thought about it and decided they probably wouldn't think it was such as big deal.

Though they maintain this imposing structure, complete with antique furnishings, they are not bothered by toys left in the yard overnight or, apparently, phased by the house getting a coat of graffiti. I just wondered who would get to wash it off. The rain would never reach it, and I know sidewalk chalk can last a long time.

Eventually, though, the chalk disappeared. I don't know if we got used to it and eventually it wore/faded/blew away or if someone took a hose or a sponge to it. The chalk my son so eagerly covered the basement with a few weeks ago has been walked on and rain-washed until it is all but invisible as well.

God washes our sins in the same way. As the rain washes the chalk away to one day end up in the ocean, Micah 7:19 says, " You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."

Just as the bucket of chalk my sons got had almost every color imaginable, almost any sin we can imagine God can forgive! Our sins are washed away by Christ's blood, through the waters of baptism, and with each prayer of repentance.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. " 1 John 1:7-9

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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