I live in a town founded in the late 1800's. The downtown area is full of character. The buildings are old and sometimes even a bit crumbly. Tucked away in this area is an object that always catches my eye. It is a big ugly dumpster with the word, "GRACE" hand painted on it.

In the same area, the walls of the old buildings have sometimes been covered in graffiti. The graffiti doesn't stay around too long before someone covers it with a fresh coat of paint. However, I appreciate that the word "GRACE" written on the dumpster has never been painted over. It stands as a powerful reminder of God's work in my life.

In the middle of tall buildings and the daily hustle of life, a small word is painted on an ugly dumpster just waiting to be noticed ... a small word with awesome implications — "GRACE"!

In the past, I have been like those graffiti scarred and crumbly walls with ugly words written all over me. I just was waiting for a fresh coat of paint to make me look pretty again so I could cover up the ugliness I saw. All the while, I knew deep down inside, I was only a wall, with several layers of paint covering up the ugliness of sin.

Instead of painting over sin, now I choose to be like the dumpster — the place where God has written out His "GRACE." I learned through God's grace, that shame happens when we try to cover over the sin in our life. Satan lures us to sin. When we do sin, he rubs our noses in it and shames us to humiliation.

Satan's shame is different than the Lord's conviction of our hearts when we sin. God wishes to make us clean — to take a broken heart and make it new. Only Jesus can cleanse us of our sins. No quick touch up job will do the trick. Because of God's grace in Jesus, we can humble ourselves before Him, confess our ugly sins, ask forgiveness, turn away from the sins we have committed, and he will empty our trash for us, cleanse our hearts, and cover us with His "GRACE."

Humility, confession, forgiveness and repentance ... those words can sound impossible, especially if we have chosen sin for a long time. Sin has a way of blinding us so that we can't find our way out of it.

Fifteen-years ago, I felt bound by the sin I had chosen in my life, I was lost and felt very alone. If I had considered those words — humility, confession, forgiveness, and repentance — at that time in my life, I would have been overwhelmed. I am not sure I even knew what they all meant. The words I remembered uttering in desperation were, "God please help me, forgive me for what I have done." When I lifted my teary eyes to Him, He gave me His hope and He helped me see His grace, which was there all along.

I learned that God always gives us a way out of sin. God's grace over my life made that hope possible. God can take the simplest of prayers and a willing heart and make a modern day miracle.

I bet you know someone like me, or maybe you and I share a bit in common. Maybe you are looking for a way out of sin. I have the secret: be like the dumpster. Allow God's grace to be the miracle in your life. Let Him write His loving grace on your life and bring you closer to His hope.

He is waiting ... just for you!

God can make a modern day miracle.

Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way ...

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's special favor ["GRACE"] that you have been saved!) ... God saved you by his special favor ["GRACE"] when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:1-10 NLT)

Tammy Marcelain is part of the The Coffee Group. Find out more by visiting http://www.heartlight.org/thecoffeegroup/