I came to the church Halloween gathering as a gesture of support for our youth group trying so hard to reach out to neighborhood children and families. But then, I had to play in those silly youth games.

First, I was blindfolded and told to smell, feel and taste various gross objects such as smelly socks, sour pickle juice and a weird pudding. Ecch! The youth enjoyed the thrill of having a minister at their mercy. In return, I got a sour taste in my mouth and a piece of candy. It wasn’t worth it.

The next game, however, got me in serious trouble. Russell, another youth leader and I were asked to get on our hands and knees and see who could push a potato from one end of the room to the other the fastest. Did I mention the only part of our body, which could touch the potato, was the nose? Can you picture in your mind how this race must look? Oh, the shame of it all.

Russell later described what happened in our Sunday school class where I was forced to publicly face the consequences of my sinful actions.

He said: “I was putting my nose to the spud-stone, so to speak working my nostrils off trying to win the race. Blood was spurting on the floor, but I didn’t mind because it was all for our youth. Just as I neared the finish line, a potato went flying past me. No mortal nose could send a spud flying with such velocity. It was obvious to me what happened. Larry Davies, our minister, our solid moral example, cheated and threw the potato.”

Three witnesses in the Sunday school class agreed that I indeed maliciously and without any sense of shame picked up the potato with my hand and threw it over the finish line.

“Holy French Fries, you’ve got me dead to rights,” I cried out. “I confess! I confess! The frustration and shame of Russell beating me by a nose was too much to bear. I plead guilty to the shameful crime of illegal potato throwing. Please forgive me!”

After the laughter died down our Sunday school class began to talk about the real sins we commit from potato-race fibs to the horrendous acts we see in the news. The hard truths is, we all make mistakes, we stray from God. Should we then quit the church in shame? Do we lie and pretend nothing happened? How do we atone for our sins?  Psalm 32 gives some encouraging answers:

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven — When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.” (1,3,4)

Don’t keep silent about your sins. It’s not what you did as much as what you do next.

“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.”  (5)

Confess, knowing God will forgive. This is the cornerstone of our faith.

“Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found.” (6)

Confession begins the process of overcoming the vicious hold sin has on you. 

“But the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.” (10)

Trust in God to love and protect you through difficult times.

I still throw potatoes occasionally along with other sins, but it is comforting to know that if I am willing to face my mistakes, confess and seek God’s help there will be a promise of love and encouragement to see me through.

You can bet the spud ranch on that one!