By Judy Brandon: Religion columninst
I had an experience in grade school that really made an impression on me through all my childhood summers.
I was attending Meserve School in Kansas City, Kan. At the beginning of one school year, our teacher Mrs. Greenwood explained the rules of the classroom.
She told us about the schedule, rules for talking, recess, lunch and manners in general. She also gave us instructions on buying our oil cloths.
Mrs. Greenwood required that each student have an oil cloth to cover his or her desk tops. The cloths had to be cut to protect our desks with enough overhang on the edges to make sure that the entire desk was covered. So during coloring, painting or pasting, our desks remained clean because the oil cloth was protecting the top.
I informed mother that afternoon I had to have an oil cloth so we headed for Katz Drug, where they sold material by the bolt. I chose one that had a blue and yellow plaid pattern with daisies in each box of the pattern. The price came to eight cents.
The next day I proudly took my oil cloth to school and placed it over the top of my desk. Then Mrs. Greenwood came around to each student’s desk and put tape underneath to hold the oil cloths in place.
So all the school year, I did my work and art projects with my plaid oil cloth covering my desk. Soon it had residue from glue, pencil and crayon marks all over the top of it. I didn’t worry because my desk was protected and the oil cloth was taking all the abuse.
By the end of the school year, my oil cloth looked pretty tattered and dirty. On the school day we all packed up what supplies we had left to take home.
The exciting moment came when Mrs. Greenwood told us to take our cloths off our desks. I knew that she would be so proud of all of us because our desks would be so clean.
I took mine off and found that under that messy oil cloth, there was an unharmed, unstained shiny desk that had been protected all year.
Then Mrs. Greenwood really surprised me. She announced to the class that she was going to give a prize to the person who had the cleanest oil cloth.
I couldn’t believe it. The whole purpose of the oil cloth was to protect our desks. I was confused because she had seemed to change the rules. And I sure didn’t get the prize for the cleanest oil cloth.
This early childhood experience has a distinct parallel to my life in general. First, the oil cloth of my life has looked pretty messy at times. There are things that I would like to erase — mistakes, sins, messes I have in my life due to poor choices and wrong actions.
I am thankful that God is not like Mrs. Greenwood of my youth. He gives us the rules and doesn’t change them at the last minute.
We make a mess of things, and if we have trusted Jesus and we genuinely ask Him to forgive us, we are forgiven.
The Bible says our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west and God remembers our sins no more. We are clean before Him — not because of what we have done but because of what Christ did for us. Christ is our covering.
That’s my lesson from the oil cloth experience.