Author and humorist Ken Davis tells a great story about one of his first parenting experiences: He said that when his daughter Traci was just a toddler, he put her into the bathtub to take a bath and then left her—going into the living room to read the newspaper. Obviously, that’s a bad idea, but at least the story has a happy ending.
It seems that after Ken had been reading the paper awhile, he heard the sound of Traci’s terrified screams coming from the bathroom. Naturally, he panicked, and throwing the newspaper into the air, ran for the bathroom. But somehow the door had gotten locked. So, as Traci’s screams continued, he started kicking the door, thinking about all the horrible things that might be happening on the other side. Had she turned the hot water on? Had she dragged an electrical appliance into the tub with herself?
He was so pumped, he says, that he kicked the door down and ran into the bathroom with little splinters of wood hanging from his body. And as he ran into the bathroom, there was Traci, frantically pointing to her hands. “Look!” she screamed. “I’m ruined!”
Traci was screaming because her hands were all wrinkled from being in the water!
Ken Davis goes on to say that when his breathing returned to normal he then spent several minutes trying to convince Traci that she was not going to spend the rest of her life looking like a raisin or an extra-terrestrial. “God made you that way,” he said. “God made you so that if you put your hands in the water for a long time, they wrinkle up.”
“Why?” his daughter asked, still staring at her hands as if they might fall off any minute.
“Why?” A flabbergasted dad repeated. “Well, God told me that if you ever asked that question, I should tell you it’s none of your business.” He couldn’t answer the question but he didn’t want her to know that!
The story serves as a great illustration for the fact that many adults and teens react to life much as Traci did to that bath. Some have committed sins they feel are so terrible that God will never love them again—that they’re ruined. (Ken Davis uses the illustration of a friend of his who committed armed robbery.) Others, of course, have made bad decisions that have changed the course of their lives—like a high school sophomore having a baby.
“I’m ruined” they scream and they believe it. They believe God will never love them again, much less use them to accomplish His will. They believe they will forever be second-rate citizens.
But just like Ken had great news for his daughter Traci, God has great news for you and me: There is hope for those who don’t believe they’re good enough for God’s love.
The book of Romans, a new testament book of the Bible written by a really “ruined” guy named Paul, says that we’ve all blown it—not just a few, who thereby become inferior to everyone else, but all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious ideal. So in a sense, we’re all wrinkled and ruined.
And, a little later in the book of Romans, we’re told that the wages of sin is death—our ruin. Now neither is great news, let alone good news, but the great news does come because the Bible follows up that warning with the solution– that the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.
God sent Jesus so we wouldn’t have to be ruined by our sins. Whether you’re a Christian who has taken a wrong turn and fallen into temptation, or someone who has never felt the hope of knowing God, He waits to forgive and comfort us. He wants us to know that, even though we may be wrinkled—we aren’t ruined. Yes, sin is bad and it’s an equally bad idea to stay in it too long—for unlike water it truly has ruined us. But God has brought a happy ending to a story that otherwise might end tragically. By looking to Christ for the forgiveness of sins and embracing His rescue on our behalf, the most ruined we’ll ever be is some wrinkled skin from staying in the water too long.
As father and daughter, Ken Davis and Traci learned something that day. And so do you and I as children of God—the Heavenly Father loves us and would not have us ruined. In Jesus’ name.