By Carol Geckle

For a while after I became a Christian, I continued to struggle with wanting to repent of certain sins.  I knew God didn’t like my stubbornness, but somehow I convinced myself it was all right to hold on to these secret sins because no one knew … right?

Then one day I came across Proverbs 28:13 … No one who conceals his transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (NRSV).

Suddenly, the light went on!  In one of those blindingly clear moments when the Bible seemed to be written just for me, I realized that holding on to these “secret” sins was keeping me from the very thing I wanted most-God’s closeness and perfect will for my life. I decided to write down a list of these secret sins.  I was hoping they weren’t really all that bad, but unfortunately it was surprisingly difficult to look at them on paper.  My written sins couldn’t dress themselves up to seem prettier than they were.  My heart was crushed, and I prayed right then for God to forgive my stubbornness and each individual secret sin.

I immediately felt at peace, but my forgiven heart didn’t like looking at my “paper of sins”-and I certainly didn’t want anyone else to see them-so in a moment of high drama I took the paper outside to burn it in the barbeque.  To my frustration, it wouldn’t burn.  It flamed and charred, and then went out.  Four matches later, all I had managed to do was singe the edges.  Every word was still readable, just like the sins themselves had been readable by God.  But I didn’t give up, and with several more matches I reduced the whole list to a small pile of ashes.

Burning my paper of sins didn’t automatically rid them from my life, but it did show me an important lesson from God:  His forgiveness is immediate, but repentance takes persistence … never give up!