Annie is a Broadway musical based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie”. It is the story of a little orphan girl who is desperately looking for her parents. After running away to find them, she is brought back to the orphanage. Luckily for Annie, she finds herself in the right place at the right time and ends up in the home of billionaire, “Daddy” Warbucks, for Christmas. As the story unfolds, you see a bond forming between them. The little girl who sings, “It’s a hard knock life” captures the heart of “Daddy” Warbucks and he opens his home and his heart to her. The story of Annie is a rags-to-riches story but there is another rags-to-riches story that I want to consider today. It is not fiction; this is a real life rags-to-riches story.
It is a story that many of us can understand. Often we see ourselves only worthy of rags when God wants to pour His riches upon us. When I say riches, I don’t mean monetarily. I mean the riches of His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. God through His forgiveness wants to remove the rags of our past and clothe us in something new. When we repent of our sins and believe in our heart that Christ died for our sins, we are made new. Our rags are gone.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17(NIV)
Seems simple, right? Confess, believe, throw out our rags, and move on to a life of riches in Christ. For many that is exactly what happens but some of us find ourselves putting our rags back on again, doubting that we are really forgiven. We believe there is no way God can actually forgive us. Some of us have heard countless times we are “useless” and “unworthy” and we think that’s what God sees when He looks at us.
God doesn’t dangle forgiveness in front of us like dangling a carrot in front of a horse. It is not something He puts just out of our reach and only offers to a few. It is freely given to all of us. When we don’t believe that we are truly forgiven, we continue to wear the rags of our past. It is like saying, “God, I don’t believe You are big enough.”
Isaiah 61:10 tells us, I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (NASB)
Read that again. He has clothed you in garments of salvation. He wrapped you in a robe of righteousness. You are compared to a bridegroom and a bride. What bridegroom is not looking his best on his wedding day and what bride is not glowing and radiant?
I heard an amazing woman of God, Jan Stahl, speak at our women’s retreat. She said, “Stop wearing the rags of this world when you are clothed in righteousness.” I love that. Jan was saying that we have been forgiven, redeemed, and made righteous in the eyes of God. We are new and yet we continue to pick up the hurt, sin, and shame of our old life and put it back on.
If you had your choice between crisp, clean, white socks and smelly, dirty socks that have walked through all manner of dirt, mud, and filth, you would choose the clean ones, right? It is an easy choice when it’s about socks. But for some reason when it comes to receiving all that God has for us, we find ourselves reaching for the past, no matter how dirty it is.
Is it because our past is familiar to us and the world tells us it is what we deserve? God sees beyond our mistakes. He wants to pour out His riches upon us. He wants to clothe you in righteousness. God has given you a new wardrobe, so what are you waiting for? Throw out the rags and clothe yourself in the riches of His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
Father, I pray that whoever reads this will understand that they are deeply loved by You and that Your forgiveness knows no bounds. I pray they will leave their rags behind forever and stop trying to put them back on because You want so much more for them. Lord, I pray that they will receive the new wardrobe of Your love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. May they believe with their whole heart that Your son, Jesus, is the only way to move from rags to riches. Amen.
Originally Posted on Living Better 50 Magazine.