From Rags to Riches

by | Jun 2, 1999 | Salvation

Like most children, Timmy was an adventurous six-year-old. Some would say he continuously expressed himself in somewhat of an artistic fashion. Translation: Timmy constantly drew on the walls with anything he could get his hands on. Crayons were his choice of expression; owning the biggest box that Crayola made helped arm him with a seemingly endless supply of colors that more than adequately covered each wall up to four feet from the floor. In a diversity of colors like Magenta, Outrageous Orange, and Robin’s Egg Blue, he created people, animals, choo-choo trains, space-ships, and a thousand other things his imagination would bring to life.

Not knowing what to do, Timmy’s father bought him a charcoal sketch kit complete with a sketch pad and various shades of charcoal sketching briquettes. Now if you are anything like me, you’re thinking maybe this was not a very good idea, but after several long talks about not drawing on the walls, Timmy’s father convinced him to instead use the sketch pads. And it worked. Timmy began using the sketch pads and charcoal briquettes to create wonderful works of art. He began drawing portraits of family members and neighbors, and everyone was amazed at the accurate likenesses he had produced.

His now happy parents hired a crew of men to come in and repaint all the walls. It took them nearly a week, but the end result was beautiful. His parents were elated. As a matter of fact, Timmy’s mother had, after all, been wishing for the walls to be freshly painted long before the crayons had ever touched them.

The proud parents then began hanging their son’s works of art all over the house. The refrigerator doors were covered with sketch-pad drawings held by fruit-shaped magnets. In the living room, many of his finer works were framed and hung on the same walls he had once desecrated. One whole wall in the den was completely covered from top to bottom with sketch-pad pages, and if I am not mistaken, the opposite wall in the same room had a few as well.

Timmy enjoyed the sketch pad and charcoal briquettes, but he did miss drawing on the walls. He knew he was not allowed to do it, but he couldn’t quite contain himself. With a few darker colored Crayons, Timmy began drawing on the dining-room walls. The dark shades formed fish, firemen, army tanks and several other items stretching upward as far as his arms would reach.

As he looked at his drawings, he became overwhelmed with guilt. He decided to try to wash the evidence from the walls so his parents would not be able to see them, but the only towel he could find was the one he used when sketching with the charcoal briquettes. He used this towel to wipe his hands clean from the messy charcoal, so the rag was filthy, and when used on the walls only made them worse. Now the walls were covered with Crayon drawings and dark charcoal smears.

So often I find myself in the same situation. I try to cleanse the filthy walls of my sins by my own supposedly righteous efforts, but only make them filthier. And no wonder, since Isaiah 64:6 reminds us that “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” When will I learn that only God can do the job? For He alone can cleanse the filthy walls of our sins, even those made filthier by our self-righteous efforts to cleanse them without His aid. Better still, He can cleanse the filthy rags of our self-righteousness as well, transforming them into gleaming spotless cloths of holiness.

Mike Collins can be contacted by email at you may also visit to read previous articles from this column.


From Rags to Riches