On Higher Ground

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By Bill Horner

Beware, your sins will come back to haunt you (when you least expect it)


“O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You” (Psalm 69:5). We can perhaps hide our sins from others for awhile, but God sees them.  And often they resurface when we least expect it.

I probably would never have bought that high school class ring if I’d known the embarrassment it would cause me one day. I was proud of the 14 karat gold and dark red stone with the floating old English “D” (for Donelson High School).  But unfortunately the “stone” was closer akin to glass, and in no time I broke it.

Two of my buddies accompanied me to the local jeweler that warm summer day to see if he could repair the ring. Mr. Bond took a quick look and pronounced his judgment. “I can’t fix this ring!  It was made by a firm in Michigan that sells to the schools. They’re the only ones that can fix them. Now, if you’d bought from me, I could fix it easily. You should have bought it here.”Mr. Bond’s lecturing was good-natured, but I felt like an idiot anyway. Not only was my ring broken, but I’d suffered humiliation in front of my friends.    

That night the three of us were bored and looking for some mild trouble to get into. Rolling somebody’s yard seemed to fit the bill. 

For the uninformed, rolling a yard consists of taking several rolls of toilet paper and hurling them into the treetops. As the rolls fall back to earth, they trail long streamers. The result is a spectacular display of paper art which is virtually impossible to clean up.  But who was to be our victim?  One of my buddies (not me, honest!) suggested the jeweler who had so humbled me.  He was listed in the phone book. And in minutes we were creating our mischievous masterpiece in Mr. Bond’s front yard. The lights were out. He never had a clue who did it or why.

Over the years I felt twinges of guilt, for after all, Mr. Bond never meant any harm. Once I even entered his store prepared to make full confession, but he wasn’t there. So I forgot the matter—until one night about 18 years after the event. I was out making visits with a staff minister of the church that ordained me. As J.C. wheeled his vehicle onto Lynn Drive, guilty memories flooded back. 

“J.C., as a teenager I helped roll a yard on this very street,” I confided.

Imagine my shock when we pulled up to the very house.  I wasn’t worried, however, because the name on the visitation card was a Mrs. Mullins, a single lady.  So obviously Mr. Bond had moved on.

But as we stepped up onto the front porch and J.C. rang the doorbell, it suddenly all came together for me, as if I were helplessly watching a train wreck about to happen.  The garage had been converted into an apartment, which Mrs. Mullins obviously rented. And the name plate right there by the front door of the main house read “Bond!”  Mr. Bond himself opened the door to greet us. 

It was too late to run. There was no place to hide. Besides, a man has to face up to his sordid past.  J.C. was about to speak, but I jumped in and blurted out, “Mr. Bond, we’re with the Baptist church and were looking for Mrs. Mullins, but before we go any further, I owe you an apology.”  Whereupon I confessed my awful sin of rolling his yard years earlier.

Mr. Bond howled with laughter. Turning to J.C., he said with a twinkle in his eye, “Maybe I ought to make him do some yard work for me right now!”  Mr. Bond was a churchgoing man and quite understanding. 

What a relief!

Confession is good for the soul, and forgiveness is sweet. 

But—young people, spare yourself that rich experience by being a more considerate teenager than I was.

“For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known” (Matthew 10:26).