Richard Hoefler's book "Will Daylight Come" includes a little story.

In the story, a little boy visiting his grandparents used his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target. As he came back to Grandma's backyard, he spied her pet duck. On impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit and the duck fell dead.

The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister Sally watching. Sally had seen it all, but said nothing.

After lunch that day, Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes." But Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn't you, Johnny?" She quickly whispered, "Remember the duck!"

So Johnny did the dishes.

Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, "I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally smiled and said, "That's all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it." And again she whispered, "Remember the duck!"

Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.

After several days of doing both his chores and Sally's, he couldn't stand it. He confessed to Grandma that he killed the duck.

"I know, Johnny," she said, giving him a hug. "I saw the whole thing. I was angry, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you."

How often do you allow someone to hold over your head an error committed in the past? How long will you continuously remind yourself of a past error and beat up yourself?

Freedom from past mistakes, no matter how difficult it may seem, comes from admitting before God what you have done. It takes wisdom to ask God's forgiveness and know you have been forgiven.

You see, we cannot hide our errors from God, nor from ourselves.

Very often God waits patiently for us to confess to him so his forgiveness can be freely lavished on us. The question is, how long will you allow those past wrongs make a slave of you?

Remember, God's grace is not earned, but it is given — freely, simply and abundantly.

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.