By Fred Craddock (1928-2015), Craddock Stories, ed. by Mike Graves and Richard F. Ward, 2001, Chalice Press, pages 101-102.
I remember the first time I went to a minister to talk about something personal; it was tough as toenails. It was hard to go and talk to a minister.
I had been baptized about two years. Some fellows that I worked with in a box factory went uptown to get a hot dog or a hamburger for lunch. We had an hour for lunch. I still had on my nail apron, and they had on their nail aprons; we drove nails to make these boxes. We passed a blind man on the sidewalk with his guitar, a sign that said “I’m blind. Please help me,” and a tin cup taped to the neck of his guitar. It suddenly occurred to the three of us to play a trick. Each of us took some nails from our nail aprons and dropped them in his tin cup, noisily, and he said, “Thank you, thank you very much. May God bless you. Thank you very much.”
That began to eat at me; of all of the ugly, terrible things to do. Well, I couldn’t get rid of it, so finally I did what some people do only in desperation; I talked to the minister. I went to the minister and told him what I had done, and he sat up at his desk and said, “Are you aware that this country is in the biggest war of our history?” It was World War II, the last year of it. “People are dying by the hundreds every day; soldiers have been away from their families for years. We don’t know how this whole thing is going to turn out, and people are dying and starving. And you are worried about nails in a blind man’s cup?” He let me go.
My little problem was swallowed up in the problems of the world. But it wouldn’t go away for me. Finally, I went to the youth minister, Mignonne. We didn’t pay her, but she was a minister. I told her what I had done, and she told me that was a terrible, terrible thing to do. She felt bad, like I felt bad, and she said, “God forgives you for that, but why don’t you next week when you have your lunch hour, why don’t you go to that same blind man and tell hint what you did and ask him to forgive you, and then if you have a nickel or a dime or a quarter, give it to him.”
I did, and that poor man forgave me, and he smiled and said, “I know how it is. Lot of boys are full of mischief, aren’t they?” He forgave me. I had been baptized already, and I was carrying that around.
Now that may not seem big to you, but think about what you’re carrying around right now. Would you like to get rid of it?
Psalm 38:18b — …I am troubled by my sin.
Psalm 30:10 — Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.
Luke 18:37-38 — They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Psalm 32:1-5 — Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
I John 1:8-9 — If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Hebrews 10:22 — Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
John 8:11b — Jesus said unto her, “…Go and sin no more.”
Merciful God, I confess to you now that I have sinned.
I confess the sins that no one knows and the sins that everyone knows.
I confess the sins that are a burden to me and the sins that do not bother me because I have grown used to them.
Father, forgive me, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.