Our Not-So-Hidden Sin
by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
One evening last fall Justice called me into his room and asked me to look at his shoulder. During his shower, he'd noticed a bump near his shoulder blade that was tender to the touch. After asking him to point out the spot to me, I examined the area and discovered a bump. There was no visible marking, but I felt what I figured was a cyst of some kind. I told Justice just to keep an eye on it, and if it didn't go away or was bothering him more, we'd go have it looked at.
Fast-forward to December 30. Justice called me into his room and told me that the bump on his shoulder was bothering him again. This time when I looked, I noticed a dark spot accompanying the bump. The next morning I called the doctor's office to make an appointment. Even though it was New Year's Eve, we were able to get an appointment to have the mysterious lump examined.
As soon as David, our nurse practitioner, took a look at the area, he determined that there was some sort of foreign body buried beneath the skin. He questioned Justice, asking if he'd been stabbed with a pencil or had any other type of injury to the area. Apparently, having to remove pencil lead from patients is not an uncommon procedure. Justice insisted he couldn't remember any such injury.
After much debate (and much to Justice's dismay), we decided to have David make a small incision and search for the mysterious object. After numbing the area, David began the hunt. The three of us were speculating what it might be when out of nowhere Justice said, "Well, it might be a BB." Needless to say, that got our attention. "What?" I questioned. "Are you saying someone shot you with a BB gun?!" Although I tried to question him further, Justice wasn't talking.
A few moments later, David asked, "What's that you said about being shot with a BB gun?" Sure enough, out popped a BB. It had been embedded in Justice's shoulder long enough that David had a hard time getting it out. In fact, the lead actually discolored the surrounding skin, leaving what almost looks like a tiny tattoo where it once sat.
As David stitched Justice up, Justice told his long-kept secret. I'm still not sure we've heard the whole story, but here's what we know. Several years earlier, Justice had been playing at a friend's house when the friend decided to get out his BB gun. The friend was shooting targets in the backyard when at some point he suggested that Justice take a shot and promised it wouldn't hurt. According to Justice, he started to walk away when he felt a sharp pain in the back of his shoulder. Fearing that he'd get in trouble if he told us what had happened, Justice kept the incident to himself. Zach and I had no idea that his friend even had a BB gun until that day in the doctor's office.
Needless to say, the incident led to a series of long, serious talks about gun safety and honesty. We tried to emphasize the importance of telling us when things go wrong or when he's hurt in any way, regardless of what he's afraid might happen. Sometimes, we explained, you have to get over your fear of getting in trouble and be up front with us because the possible consequences of the secret are too serious to risk.
I tell you this story because earlier this week I was flipping through old pictures on my phone and ran across a series of pictures from that day. As I recalled that memorable trip to the doctor, a few things struck me.
When Justice was first hit in the shoulder with that BB, it would have left an obvious wound. It most likely bled and, I'm sure, was somewhat painful. Over time, of course, that wound healed. However, the cause of the wound-the BB-was left lodged a short distance below Justice's skin. Once that initial healing occurred, I'm sure Justice thought it was over. I can almost imagine him breathing a sigh of relief, glad that he'd gotten by without us finding out what had happened.
For a time, all was well. The BB remained hidden-out of sight-and Justice's secret was safe. Yet, as the years passed, the BB began working its way to the surface. Justice's body tried to absorb the foreign object but was unable to do so. Of course, his body couldn't expel it either. And so there it sat-stuck beneath the skin where it began to cause Justice discomfort. He described it as a sharp, stabbing pain whenever someone touched the area. Eventually, it had to be dealt with. And so, despite Justice's best attempt at hiding what had happened from Zach and me, we found out.
Because of the way it all turned out, with no complications, I'm glad things happened the way they did. As a result, we were able to take the opportunity to teach Justice a few valuable life lessons. And as I reflected back, it occurred to me that that's how it is with sin so often. Sometimes it hits us when we least expect it and buries itself deep. We think that it's over and done with or perhaps hidden away. But the thing about sin is that eventually comes to the surface, forcing us to deal with the consequences. Unfortunately, with sin it's not always a happy ending.
And although Zach and I were left in the dark for years with regards to this particular incident, that is not the case with our Heavenly Father. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He already knows our sins, even when we try our best to keep them hidden. I'll be the first to admit that I've tried (and failed) to conceal sin. But you know what? Many times I come to realize that the only person I'm lying to is myself. And really now, what good does that do?
But here's the good news. No matter what sin you've committed, even if you've tried to keep it concealed for years, God is willing and able to forgive. That promise was sealed when Jesus suffered a horrific death on the cross all those years ago. He took upon his shoulders the sins of the world-the sins of every man, woman, and child who would ever walk the face of this earth. Through the shedding of His blood, we are made clean.
In Isaiah 53:5 we're told, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."
And in Romans:8-9, we're told exactly what we need to do to receive this healing: "… 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
You see, that sin that you carry so close to your heart, the one that you desperately try to hide from those closest to you-yeah, that one-it's already known by God. And here’s the good news! He's still willing to forgive you. Yes, even you. Yes, even for that sin. Friend, the gift of forgiveness is yours. All you have to do is repent and accept His grace. Praise God! By His wounds, we are healed!