The dictionary’s primary definition of apron is “a garment, usually fastened in the back, worn over all or part of the front of the body to protect clothing.” But, for my thinking out loud through this blog, I am thinking of the protective paved part of a racetrack or an airport runway that allows some degree of safety or grace where you can miss the mark, yet quickly get back on track without missing the chance for the goal or prize.
Does grace provide an apron? Not an excuse. Not an exception. I understand, like in football, if you are a receiver and you run out of bounds during a play, even in a small way, you instantly become ineligible to catch the ball. I was taught by the Word that if we are born of God we cannot be those who make a habit of running out of bounds and be an eligible receiver of grace.
The hymn, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, echoes the power of Jesus on which we rely. “He breaks the power of canceled sin, he sets the prisoner free. His blood can make the foulest clean. His blood availed for me.” So, do I need an apron, a protective grace-paved margin in my life to keep on moving forward? And if I do, what does it look like?
What happens when I “err from the truth” or start sliding off the track? Is it inevitable that my slide will go too far and take me out of the race? No. James, the brother of Jesus tells us we need to be “converted” or turned back into the proper running lane for those who follow Jesus. In some sense, there is a place of conviction that leads to conversion, that leads to complying with the commands of God again.
If we reverse engineer these verses in James, chapter 5, what do we do when we find ourselves on the apron, somewhere off track where if we continue we will certainly wreck and who knows what happens then? First, we need to quickly and with repentance thank the Lord for saving grace.
We ought to pray, fervently and effectively against the temptations that rain upon us. We ought to sing out loud. I find it impossible to imagine slipping into sin while singing a hymn of faith and devotion out loud. Jesus says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6: 45) so go ahead, and do not give your heart a chance to fill up on the wrong thing. For good measure, pray again. Do not let the day (or this moment) end with unresolved conflict between you and God or you and another.
Let your yes be yes, or your no be no. Don’t try to ride the apron. Get back on track. If the apron is there, it is there for your protection not your participation. Confess your faults and be healed. Get back on track and find your groove where you can move forward with the greatest speed.