“Mistake Out”

While attending college at Montana State University in Bozeman, I had to take a class in “technical writing.”  All the papers we handed in had to be typewritten and could not contain any misspelled words or typos. Well, this was long before spell-check and personal computers and keyboards. Fortunately the summer before I had gotten married and my wife, Kathy, had worked at a newspaper office, had been a proof-reader, and was an excellent typist. I had her type my papers (she also made some extra money by doing typing for others) and we both very carefully proofed them for any errors before I submitted them. One of the best inventions of that era was “Liquid Paper” or “Correction Fluid” and “Correction Tape.”  If you did make a mistake while typing, you could cover it up and type over it.  The mistake was still there but you couldn’t see it.
     In 1956, Bette Nesmeth Graham, a struggling divorced mother, was the executive secretary at Texas Bank & Trust. She also took in extra typing to supplement her income as a single parent. She made a lot of mistakes when she typed so decided—with the help of her son, Mike—to experiment in her kitchen and come up with a product to cover up her mistakes. With tempera paint as a basis, she mixed ingredients in a kitchen blender, calling the outcome “Mistake Out.”  She made enough to provide her co-workers each with a small bottle. In 1958, Graham founded the “Mistake Out Company” continuing to work from her kitchen and garage to produce bottles of correction fluid. She continued to work at the bank until she was fired after accidentally putting her own company’s name on her employer’s letter! So she devoted all her time to “Mistake Out.” She offered her correction fluid to IBM, which declined the offer. IBM announced its own “Correcting Selectric” with an integrated lift-off tape in 1973.
     By 1968 Bette’s product, now renamed “Liquid Paper,” was very profitable. In 1979 the company was sold to the Gillette Corporation for $47.5 million with royalties!  In 2000 the “Liquid Paper” product and brand name was acquired by Newell Rubbermaid and is now marketed by “Paper Mate,” a subsidiary owned by Newell. The “Bic” company also markets a correction fluid called “Wite-Out.”
     David Graham, in an article he wrote for The Atlantic magazine about the continued use of correction fluids in our post-typewriter era, said: “You can’t erase the past anymore than you can erase a printed typo or a written error—but you can paper (cover) it over and pretend it didn’t happen.” I can’t help but see the parallel to our spiritual lives and our attempts to cover up our mistakes. Our efforts are like those of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they sinned. They tried to cover up for what they had done and appease their awakened sense of guilt and shame by sewing fig leaves together to cover their nakedness (Gen. 3:7).  Their attempt failed and they were still cut off from fellowship with God until He provided them with garments of animal skins, which involved the slaying of an innocent substitute (including the shedding of blood) on their behalf (Gen. 3:21).  This set a pattern for the entire Old Testament period prior to Christ’s coming to earth, as animals were sacrificed and their blood was shed as an atonement (covering) for sin.  This was a picture of and looked forward to when God the Son would come to earth as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).  Jesus, as the God-Man, offered Himself as the final sacrifice for sin, not just covering it as the Old Testament sacrifices had done, but putting the sin away—removing it forever.  The author of the Book of Hebrews wrote this: “By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time sat down at the right hand of God…for by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10-14). Our sins are not merely covered—as with “Mistake Out,”—but are removed “as far as the east is from the west” (Psa. 103:12). “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11,12).   
      Praise God, our sins are not merely covered but really still there—They are GONE!  Because of Jesus’ death (including the shedding of His precious blood), burial and resurrection, I can, through trusting in Christ as my personal Savior, have my sins—past, present, and future—removed. The souls of Old Testament saints (who had their sins covered) went to Paradise or “Abraham’s Bosom” when they died, but when Jesus came and made His final sacrifice for the sins of the world, they were able to go to heaven, the place of God’s abode (see Heb. 12:23 cf Eph. 4: 8) and today when a believer dies, his/her spirit and soul go immediately to heaven, for “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5: 8). 
     If you have just been trying to cover up for your mistakes (called sin), come to the Cross and apply the blood of Jesus—your sins will be removed and you will be granted eternal life (Jn. 3:16).  
     Forever His,
            Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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