Slate Wiped Clean
The expression, a clean slate, comes from a slate upon which a tavern’s daily bill of fare was written in soft chalk to be easily erased for a new day’s menu, and from a previous generation of schoolchildren who wrote their lessons or answers in chalk on a small slate—or chalkboard. The slate could easily be wiped clean and ready for another use. Since the mid-1800s the expression has been used figuratively to describe a fresh start, a new beginning without old baggage, or the act of wiping out old offences or debts.
The entire record of everything—unintended or unimagined—that ever was done by you that was unworthy and unholy is wiped clean when you invite Jesus into your life as Savior. (See John 3:16–17 NKJV) God’s forgiveness gives you a clean slate—a new, fresh start. …
Think of how wonderful that is. All the things that you cannot forget that you have done, let alone forgive yourself for ever doing, have been erased forever—once and for all—by the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, on a cross. The slate has been wiped clean; you are given a fresh start. A redemption that you could never have purchased yourself is freely afforded you in salvation. …
The Bible asks a rhetorical question whose answer is obvious and certain, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies! Who is he that condemns?” (Romans 8:33–34 NIV) There is no accuser left standing for the truly redeemed. Here’s Paul’s description of your clean slate, “Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority and marched them naked through the streets.” (Colossians 2:14–15 The Message)
Life and Tetris
I’m a fan of Tetris, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a tile-matching puzzle video game. The reason I like it is that I can plan it all out by looking at the pieces that will come up next, and as they come down, I can fit them all in place evenly and lower the stack. At least, that’s the idea.
Even better than that is solving the mistakes I make. Sometimes I plunk a piece down right in the wrong spot, then I have to figure out how to work around that mistake to get rid of the problem spot. It doesn’t always work out like that, though. I do great for the first few levels, but as things speed up and pieces are dropping faster and faster, I can’t control them as well anymore. Pieces end up in the wrong places, and the stack gets closer and closer to the top.
Soon enough, “GAME OVER” is blinking on the screen, and my excitement for the game is tinged with frustration.
Sometimes life can feel like that. We make one mistake after the next, and suddenly it seems like there is nothing we can do to fix things. Sometimes even our best plans end up in a mess, and no matter what we try or how we maneuver things, problems pile up and it feels like the game is over.
But the best thing about a game like Tetris is that there’s always a chance to play again. It doesn’t matter how many times you lose; you’ve always got a fresh start when you want it.
That’s what Jesus does for us. He knows we’re not perfect. He understands our limitations and weaknesses. He designed us, and He understands that we can’t “win” every time.
Jesus has promised to remove our mistakes and sins “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12) That means they’re gone; we’ve got a clean slate and we can start over. And this doesn’t just apply to your spiritual life. No matter how well you try to plan out your life, there will come times when you’ll need to start all over.
Perhaps you’ve invested time in certain goals and suddenly things have changed. You’ve put a lot of time, thought, and energy into something you thought was the way to go, but now everything’s different and you’ve got to start from scratch. When that happens, it can be discouraging. All you can see is that big “GAME OVER” sign blinking in your mind.
But after the game is over, there’s always a chance to play again.
A clean slate is an awesome thing. It means the past is done and gone. When you start a new game of Tetris, it won’t refuse you the chance to play again if you’ve lost one too many times. It just gives you a fresh game, no questions asked. When Jesus gives you a clean slate, it’s really a clean slate. He’s not looking back at your past record of mistakes and failings. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)
You’ve probably heard the saying “where there’s life, there’s hope.” That’s what I’m talking about here: as long as you’re alive and you keep “playing,” as long as you keep getting up and trying again, there’s always hope, there’s always a fresh start, and sooner or later you’re going to win.
Do you feel like your plans have gone up in smoke, and you don’t know how to start rebuilding? Or are you just discouraged because your first attempts have gone nowhere? Remember that you’ve always got a chance to start a new game. Jesus has a plan and a goal for your life, and He’ll use even the mistakes you make to bring you closer to that goal.
King Solomon tells us that a righteous man falls seven times and gets back up. (Proverbs 24:16) There’s no way around falling. It’s getting up and starting again that matters.
Every human being is under construction from conception to death. Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting, and growing, practicing patience and being persistent. At the end of construction—death—we have completed the process.
You formed my inward parts…
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought…
The days fashioned for me.
—Psalm 139:13, 15–16 NKJV
Death says, “This is the finality of accomplishment.” While we cannot add anything more to our experience, believers in Christ have the hope of hearing the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul spoke of the Christian being “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” (Colossians 2:7 NKJV) This is part of our ongoing construction in this life. But the Bible assures us that “if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NKJV) …
Life can be like traveling a treacherous road. There are potholes that jolt us, detours that get us off course, and signs warning of danger ahead. The destination of the soul and spirit is of utmost importance to God, so He offers us daily guidance. Some pay close attention to God’s directions; others ignore them and speed past the flashing lights. But everyone eventually arrives at the final destination: death’s door…
No one escapes life without difficulties. Some experience bad health even in their youth. Some born into wealth lose everything. Some seek love and find only rejection time and again. Without a firm foundation, life’s load is harder to bear.
God has a purpose for each of us, and He desires that we build upon Him, the very foundation He has put in place. Scripture speaks of craftsmen fastening the work of their hands with pegs “that it might not totter.” (Isaiah 41:7 NKJV) When Christ’s hands were pierced by spikes and fastened to the cross, He became our secure foundation.
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