In the seaside town of Perranporth, Cornwall, you will find a shop called ‘The Sea Chest’ which is next to ‘Blue Skies’. They sell all kinds of holiday-type trinkets, from wobbly fridge magnets to sticks of rock candy. The wobbly magnets are pirates and crabs with arms and legs that move about as you open your refrigerator. The sticks of rock come in unusual flavours, such as mint chocolate and pizza. I was following my youngest around this treasure trove, when she accidentally knocks a wobbly pirate off the display. It falls to the ground and instantly the pirate is in need of two pegged legs – as his own legs go scattering across the floor. I am faced with that parental dilemma – pretend it didn’t happen and try to hide the broken pirate (knowing the guilt would eat at me) or fess up and pay for the broken sailor.
My child picks out her stick of rock – yes she chose the pizza flavour – and goes to the till. I sheepishly hand the broken pirate to the man. “I’m really sorry, but we’ve broke this. I’ll pay for it.”
“Thank you,” replies the man. “Most people just kick these under the shelf and pretend it didn’t happen. Thank you for being honest. I’m not going to charge you, because you were honest with me.”
I was overwhelmed with thanks, proper gratitude. Okay it was only £3.99. But fact is this guy saw something in me that made him say, “I’ll pay for that, even though I’m within my rights to make you pay for it.”
That’s like God’s grace.
We can try to hide the ‘broken sailors’ in our lives, try to cover up our flaws and mistakes. But we aren’t fooling anyone. God least of all.
But if we take our ‘broken sailors’ to God – fess up to God – He pays for them. He sees something in us and chooses to forgive us and love us. He encourages us to live better than before.